Pro Football Focus recently compiled their secondary rankings heading into 2017. The Ravens came in at a great spot.
The strength of this secondary is at the safety position, starring Eric Weddle who was not only PFF’s top-graded safety in 2016, but at 93.8 was the highest graded player across the secondary and tied for fourth highest grade across the entire league’s defensive units. Weddle will pair with free agent addition Tony Jefferson, who had the second highest run defense grade (95.6) and run stops (27). Losing Tavon Young for the season is a blow to this unit, and they’ll be hoping for some contribution from first round pick Marlon Humphrey. The addition of Brandon Boykin could prove to be underrated, as while he missed the entire 2016 season, he has been one of the league’s more effect slot corners when able to get on the field. Boykin saw the sixth lowest passer rating when targeted in the slot back in 2015 when healthy.
Ravens fans are hoping that Pro Football Focus got this one right. Ozzie Newsome made upgrading the secondary a point of emphasis after recent late season collapses by the unit and did a great job in the process.
When it comes to the safety position the Ravens may have the top pairing in the entire league with Tony Jefferson being added this offseason to team up with Eric Weddle. PFF ranked Weddle as their best safety last season and Jefferson seems to be fully embracing his new home. Outside of their rankings on paper, the two bring a swagger and confidence the Ravens defense has been lacking.
Interesting that PFF points out the Brandon Boykin addition. While Boykin will probably make the 53 man roster because it’s clear the Ravens value depth in the secondary, the more important addition is Brandon Carr. Carr is a durable outside corner who should pair well with Jimmy Smith and hasn’t missed a game in eight years. The coaching staff has to be hoping some of that durability rubs off on Smith. You could argue his consistent health is second only to Joe Flacco’s when it comes to the Ravens success in 2017.