Baltimore Ravens State of the Corps: Safety
By Remy Cabache
The Baltimore Ravens have always been a defense-first organization with consistent quality at every position. But ever since Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard left following Super Bowl 47, the safety situation has quite simply not been the same. Especially last year, as a lack of talent at the position was part of a secondary that gave up a lot of big plays and cost the Ravens a few games. Defensive back is easily the Ravens’ biggest need on the defensive side of the ball, and perhaps their biggest need of all.
Dec 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Houston Texans safety Kendrick Lewis (21) runs back an interception for a first quarter touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
At free safety, the Ravens currently have rising sophomore Terrance Brooks and newly signed Kendrick Lewis. Brooks is coming off a very serious knee injury that ended a rookie campaign throughout which he largely struggled, so Brooks has a lot of work to do before he can be considered a viable option to start. Brooks is also expected to start 2015 on PUP.
Kendrick Lewis is heading into his 6th season and spent last year with the Texans. He played all 16 games and led the team in tackles, had two interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown) and 3 forced fumbles. Lewis is a solid pickup, as he’s shown play-making ability in flashes and the ability to lead a defense. He’s likely going to be regarded as a starter heading into the off-season.
Nov 9, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens safety Will Hill (33) reacts after knocking down a pass against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 21-7. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
At strong safety, the Ravens currently have Will Hill and Matt Elam. Hill was one of the bright spots in the secondary after returning from suspension. He is a restricted free agent and the Ravens put an original pick tender on him, valuing him at $1.5 million. Now, no team has submitted an offer sheet so we seem to be in a good spot to retain his services (provided he stays on the field), which is a big boost for our secondary.
Elam, a 1st round pick 2 years back, has severely disappointed to date. He hasn’t looked very good in pass coverage and he didn’t take over the defense like the Ravens hoped he would in training camp. Above all, he has struggled mightily with missed tackles. Elam is going to have to show a hell of a lot more in his playing time to prove that he isn’t a bust. Ozzie Newsome went so far as to call Elam out in the Ravens’ annual press conference.
Unfortunately, like tight end, safety composes an incredibly thin class between free agency and the draft. Of the two safety positions I’d say free safety is a bigger need than strong safety, but I think the addition of Kendrick Lewis removes the need to add a starter. However, as far as free agency goes, if we were to target anyone, it could be Stevie Brown.
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