The Ravens have done a tremendous job building the talent level of this group and it showed on the field last year. This is one of, if not the deepest cornerback depth chart in the NFL. They have a couple of financial decisions to make on a couple of veterans soon. They also have some young guys who can go from impressive depth pieces to starting-caliber players. 2019 has the makings of another great year for the position.
Let’s take a look at the roster as it currently stands.
Restricted Free Agents
Positional Overview Series
Marlon Humphrey had a standout rookie campaign in 2017 that put him among the best young corners in the NFL. He did not disappoint in 2018, cementing himself as one of the better corners in the NFL, regardless of age. If his ascension continues, we’ll be looking at a pro bowl player in 2019.
Humphrey’s emergence over the last 2 years makes Jimmy Smith’s roster spot tenuous at best. Smith is usually good when on the field, but he’s often injured and carries a 16.175M cap number for 2019. I would imagine he’s only on the roster if that number lowers drastically. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement he’ll be traded or released.
Brandon Carr has played well throughout his tenure with the team and has added quality slot snaps to his resume. The ultra-durable veteran has a 2019 option that must be decided on by March 12th. By all accounts, he’s expected to be back.
Tavon Young’s extension hopefully breaks the cycle of losing talented young players in free agency. He’s one of the better slot corners in the NFL and offers plus ability as a blitzer. He’ll continue to be an important piece in a pass-happy NFL.
Anthony Averett was a value pick in the 2018 draft with an eye towards the future. He was good in preseason and showed very well in limited regular season snaps. He’s sound with great speed and enough size to play inside or out. If the Ravens move on from Smith, Averett should challenge for 4th corner duties and could be a starter in 2020.
Much like Averett, Canady is a talented young corner who can play inside or outside. Drafted as a project with discipline and tackling concerns, he’s cleaned a lot of those things up in his career. Heading into a contract year, he’ll provide good depth and maybe a great buy-low target in next year’s free agency class.
The Ravens had a revolving door going at punt returner last season until Cyrus Jones showed up. His 14.3 yards per return average would have been tops in the league if extrapolated over the entire year. I’d expect Jones to return next season on his modest salary but it’s not a foregone conclusion. He was drafted in New England to play slot corner but didn’t play well when given the opportunity. If the Ravens add a player with return value in the offseason, they may look for more defensive upside and longer team control at that CB6 spot.
Speaking of that CB6 spot, Jaylen Hill and Stanley Jean-Baptiste are different but talented players who will be pushing for that position. Hill is a slot corner who looked like a tremendous find a couple preseasons ago before tearing his ACL. If he stuck around, he’d be an RFA in 2020.
Jean-Baptiste is a 6’3” specimen who was over-drafted by the Saints due to those impressive measurables. He’s bounced around the league but played very well last preseason before breaking his arm in the finale. He’s a restricted free agent and the $2.025M low tender is a little rich for a player of his caliber, but I’d expect him back at a lower number. I also wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a multi-year deal with little to no guarantees for 2020 to give them an insurance depth option. Same could be said for Hill.
Depending on what happens from an injury or performance standpoint at another position I could see either swapped in a trade for a player at another position.
Free Agent Options
None…not being lazy here guys, the team just has too many talented snap-worthy options to find a free agent that makes sense. The team has plenty of other positions to use those resources on.
Blace Brown, Troy
Brown had great ball production over his college career, with an impressive 12 interceptions. Timing and aggressiveness are themes when watching him. He’s got good size and runs well. He has starting-caliber traits while being a potential difference-maker due to his natural playmaking instincts.
Projection: 6th round
Clifton Duck, Appalachian State
Duck is another late-round guy with great ball production (12 career interceptions). A quick underneath defender who plays with an edge, he can also contribute as a returner. At 175 pounds, he’ll be limited to slot duties only in the NFL but the position is of huge importance – see Young’s extension for an idea of how the Ravens value that spot.
Projection: 6th round