Which Baltimore Ravens could have a Chuck Clark kind of trajectory?
Chuck Clark was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round in 2017. In 2019, he took over for an injured Tony Jefferson and became the starting strong safety. He stuck around, became a contributor on special teams and move up to a starting role. It might not qualify as a surprise but it surely wasn’t a given that this would happen. So which players could be the next to take this kind of jump?
This isn’t trying to find the next big star. Everyone is waiting on big years from Tyus Bowser and Miles Boykin, so there is nothing interesting about that as a premise. This is about finding a player who can change the whole outlook of his career by becoming a surprisingly intergral member of the Ravens. To qualify to be the next Clark, a player must have two of the following things prerequisites:
- Not currently penciled in as a starter
- Already makes an impact as a rotational player or on special teams. If he’s a rookie, he projects to get work on special teams or could be rotated in at his position.
- Wasn’t drafted in the first three rounds or wasn’t drafted by the Ravens and is still a young player.
These requirements give us a very thin group of players to choose from, and sets up a fairly interesting thought experiment. The candidates are as follows:
Jihad Ward: Ward was signed as a free agent in the middle of the season last year. Ward was a second round pick, but because he’s been with three other teams he qualifies for this conversation. Ward didn’t make a huge impression last season, yet he gave some quality play for the defensive line.
He had a sack against the New England Patriots and he had three sacks for the Colts in 2018. If it weren’t for injuries earlier in his career, he may have found more success in the NFL. He’s still only 26 years old. He’s 6’5″ and he weighs 287 pounds. There’s still plenty of potential here.
Iman Marshall: The thing working against Marshall is the loaded secondary the Ravens have. Considering though that the Ravens will keep five to six cornerbacks on their roster, Marshall may get a chance to shine. Marshall was a four year starter at USC and had two seasons with three interceptions.
Anthony Averett didn’t make a good impression last year and cornerback depth is sometimes a very crucial thing. Marshall is a young player who is still developing. He may not take the Clark sized jump in 2020, but by 2022 the Ravens fanbase could think very fondly of him.
James Proche: Devin Duvernay was a third round pick so he doesn’t qualify for the Clark chance. Proche on the other hand was a sixth round pick. Considering that Duvernay and Miles Boykin are the more buzzed about young receivers, Proche could come in and surprise Baltimore. He may also become the starting punt returner, which increases his chance of relevance more than the average special teams gig.
DeShon Elliott: It’s hard to imagine a player who came into their third season with only six career tackles that had more buzz than Elliott. Injuries have ruined the first two seasons for Elliott in Baltimore. He’s got such a versatile skill set and it’s a shame to see him missing almost a season and a half to start his career. Clark plays the same position but sub packages could get Elliott on the field and he has the potential to be a play-maker.
The Ravens have some interesting candidates to take the next Clark like trajectory. It’s something to keep an eye on.