Roster Preview: Maurice Canady will make an impact this season

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 20: Maurice Canady
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 20: Maurice Canady /

Second-year cornerback Marurice Canady will make the 53-man roster for the Baltimore Ravens this season

After just one season, the Baltimore Ravens 2016 draft class has already impressed. The likes of Ronnie Stanley, Alex Lewis, Kenneth Dixon and Tavon Young all saw starting time as rookies. Matt Judon also impressed in the little time he got on the field. But what about the last guy drafted in this class?

Most casual Ravens fans probably won’t know who Maurice Canady is. After a disappointing rookie season that placed him on injured reserve, it seemed like he was going to be buried on the depth chart. This especially was the case with Tavon Young’s breakout rookie season and the addition of Carr and Humphrey this offseason.

But with Tavon Young now out for the season with a torn ACL, the Ravens are left to find a replacement. It won’t be easy, considering Young was one of the best rookie cornerbacks last season. To help fill this void, the Ravens signed two free agent cornerbacks in Brandon Boykin and Al-Hajj Shabazz, but are they guys who can come in and start? The best option for the Ravens might already have been on the roster.

Great start to the offseason

A great way to get noticed as a younger player, stand out in the offseason. That’s exactly what Canady has done so far this year. He turned some heads when he snagged three interceptions during one day at OTAs. Right after Tavon Young’s injury, Canady was stepping in and making plays in the secondary.

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Ravens staff writer Ryan Mink highlighted Canady’s performance:

"He put his best foot forward Thursday. After Young left, Canady picked off a long pass down the sideline with a leaping grab, then stepped in front of a receiver for a second pick. Not long after, in 11-on-11 drills, he corralled a tipped pass for a third interception."

Obviously these are non-contact drills, but it’s impressive to see these ball skills nonetheless. Dean Pees and the rest of the defensive coaches certainly take notice to it.

Now the question is, does he have what it takes to work in the slot against some of the best receivers in the game?

Is the physicality there?

I really like Canady as a promising prospect. At 6-1 and 193 pounds, he has got the size advantage over Young, but the big question is going to be the physicality. In the slot cornerbacks come up against very slick and speedy receivers. Guys like Julian Edelman are physical off the line and fast down the middle of the field. Young was undersized, but used his scrappy nature to make up for it.

Canady is going to have to show that same kind of physicality if he wants to play. That’s the concern for him. It’s been something that was highlighted in his draft profile coming into the NFL.

"He has talent, but I have serious doubts about whether or not he’s physically tough enough and mentally tough enough. Teams would runs screens at him because they knew he might not challenge the play"

While it’s a concern, the Ravens know how to teach physical defense. That’s what their roots are built on. And according to reports, Canady dominated the Ravens strength and conditioning program. He’s been putting the work in this offseason and so far it’s shown. If there’s a physicality problem, you can bet he’s working with Dean Pees to address it.

The Bottom Line

The Ravens have struggled with depth at cornerback, but they need guys that can be more than just another player on the roster. A problem last season was the drop-off of talent once the starters went out. There’s always going to be some drop-off with the backups, but the Ravens need to make sure it’s minimal.

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It’s not a wide open road for playing time this season, but Maurice Canady has a legitimate shot at being a contributor for this defense. If he continues to improve this offseason and get more opportunities, he will do more than just make the 53-man roster.