Ravens Training Camp Battle: Who Will Be the Fourth Cornerback?


Jan 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (47) carries the ball as Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Daryl Smith (51) and Ravens defensive back Rashaan Melvin (38) tackle in the fourth quarter during the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into the 2015 season, there are a few “sure things” when it comes to the Baltimore Ravens roster.  One of which is we know that Jimmy Smith, Lardarius Webb, and Kyle Arrington are going to be the top three cornerbacks on the depth chart.  Behind them is a large and diverse group of players fighting for snaps.

That group include this year’s draft choice Tray Walker, a returning Asa Jackson and Rashaan Melvin, and Cassius Vaughn, a free agent addition.  And unlike most battles, this one is going to be tough to call.  Any of these four players can legitimately win the job.

Walker comes from a small school background, but has big league playmaking ability.  He also has legitimate and ideal NFL corner size and measurables.  The only thing holding him back is how quickly he can adjust to a big jump in competition.

Related: Tray Walker, 2015 Rookie Predictions

The jury is still very much out on Melvin.  A late addition to the active roster last season, he looked very solid in the last three weeks of the regular season, and even against the Steelers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but completely fell apart against the Patriots in the Divisional round.

Asa Jackson has provide the Ravens with a roller coaster ride of inconsistency over the last few seasons. In 2014, he bookended two good performances with five bad ones, ultimately missing the majority of the season with an injury.

Cassius Vaughn is an interesting wild card in the competition.  A six year veteran, he’s no lock for the final roster, but Vaughn has 23 NFL starts under his belt.  He’s never stood out by any means, either in a bad way or a good way.  But that might not be such a bad thing.

The Ravens have set themselves up well in regards to cornerback depth this offseason.  You’ve got a promising but raw rookie competing with a promising but unknown veteran, a league average but experienced veteran, and a disappointing but promising roster stalwart.

Related: Ravens Roster Breakdown: Cornerback

As I have said, it’s hard to predict who will rise to the top of this group but I don’t think it will be Jackson.  He’s had enough opportunities to show us what he is made of, and repeatedly failed.  Melvin has a legitimate shot if he can prove that his last game was simply the exception to the rule.

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The Ravens know what they are getting in Vaughn, and that’s a steady and wholly average performer. Walker presents the most upside but he probably won’t be ready by week one.

Having said all that, I think that Rashaad Melvin and Cassius Vaughn will rotate early in the year, with Walker perhaps being mixed in later on.  Jackson will probably head back to special teams, which is likely where his future lies.

But stay tuned, as this is one battle that may not be decided until deep in the preseason.

Next: Ravens Roster Breakdown: Cornerback

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