In an offseason where the Baltimore Ravens have several needs, the most glaring is the cornerback position
If anything went right for the Ravens last season it was the defense. While the offense struggled, the defense kept them in games. They held their own for the most part, but one of the things that hindered the defense from being great was cornerback play. When facing top-level receivers, quarterbacks attacked the Ravens secondary and had success doing it. That is why the Ravens must point to corner as being the biggest need.
The Ravens have not selected a cornerback in the first 3 rounds of the NFL draft since Jimmy Smith in 2011. That is not ideal for a team who prides itself on defense. They thought they were set at the position with Smith and Lardarius Webb, however; Webb’s age and ability forced him to move to safety and Smith’s injury history has not let him reach his potential. When Jimmy Smith went out last year nobody stepped up.
Tavon Young was a pleasant surprise and was ranked as the 3rd best rookie corner according to Pro Football Focus. On the other hand, Shareece Wright and Jerraud Powers both struggled during their time on the field. The only reason the secondary didn’t break down was because of play from the strong safety and Tavon Young’s ability to hold his own.
The Ravens need pass rush to help the cornerbacks out and not give the quarterback too much time. But the fact of the matter is, it is the secondary’s responsibility to keep up with receivers. They should be confident with the way Young has played and with the way Jimmy Smith can play when he is healthy. The Ravens still need to add 2 or 3 more very good corners in order to make the defense great.
How Can They Address It?
I know the majority of the offseason will be spent on fixing the offense, but the offense most likely will not be fixed all at once. If they plan on competing next year, they better improve the one thing that kept the other side of the ball from being dominant.
In the draft you have corners like Marlon Humphrey, Adoree’ Jackson, and Quincy Wilson. In the later rounds you could get a guy like Dwayne Thomas from LSU, who will fit the Ravens well. I think the team will select at least two cornerbacks in the draft.
In free agency, Logan Ryan seems like the best fit. He played very well and the Patriots will probably sign Malcolm Butler over Ryan. If he does hit the market the Ravens should pounce. He would immediately be the Ravens top corner and would solidify that position, giving the Ravens more flexibility heading into the draft.
No matter how they do it, the Ravens have to upgrade at this position. In order to compete at the higher levels this year, adding a corner is a must. I think at least one in the draft and free agency will do the trick. After that, they will have most of the defense solidified going into the 2017 season.