Potential Ravens roster battle: Anthony Averett vs. Iman Marshall
The Baltimore Ravens are loaded in the secondary. Here is a potential roster battle when they get to training camp:
The Baltimore Ravens are loaded in the secondary, but the bottom of the cornerback depth chart leaves a potential roster battle. What we know about the cornerback position is that Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young are the core players. The Ravens typically keep six corners however a scenario where they keep five isn’t unthinkable.
The Ravens have four running backs and a fullback. The Ravens are one of the few teams in the NFL who kept three quarterbacks on their depth chart. If the Ravens do this again, they will have eight roster spots just taken up by the backfield.
The Ravens aren’t going to want to cut ties with many of their safeties. Earl Thomas and Chuck Clark are starters. Anthony Levine can do anything, Jordan Richards plays special teams and there is a lot of excitement for both Geno Stone and DeShon Elliott.
The Ravens have to make sacrifices somewhere and their depth at safety gives them a lot of flexibility in sub packages. If all goes well, which is always a big if, the sixth cornerback on the roster isn’t seeing the field for anything but special teams. The fifth cornerback will get some action though.
With this in mind, the fifth cornerback spot could be the last one up for grabs. If the Ravens do keep six corners the competition still matters in terms of the pecking order at the position. Who has the edge, Anthony Averett or Iman Marshall?
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One could say that Averett has Marshall beat on experience, however it’s hard to label it as good experience. Averett has struggled at times. When he’s played well it hasn’t been that great. When he’s played poorly it has been very noticeable.
Both Averett and Marshall were fourth round picks, so it’s the same level of investment one way or another. Marshall has a perfect build and he was a good cornerback at USC. Marshall has the ability to be a cornerback on the outside he just has to learn on the job. Averett is a fast but undersized player who is much more valuable as a slot corner than on the outside.
With Tavon Young being back healthy and the versatility of the starting three cornerbacks, you don’t need a backup to be pigeonholed into being a slot corner. Marshall has the 6’1″ frame and while he isn’t as explosive of an athlete as Averett is, he has the goods.
Marshall had two seasons at USC with three interceptions. If he’s healthy, he has a chance to give the Ravens more as the fifth cornerback. While they are different types of players, Marshall has the potential to grow into a starting role in the future. It’s hard to say the same about Averett. Baltimore saw a big drop off from Young last season.
We’re talking about potential more than anything. Remember we still haven’t seen much of Marshall and if there is a shortened preseason there will not be a lot for fans to go off of. For John Harbaugh and company that will be a different story. They should have a good idea what they will get out of both players, by the time roster cuts happen.
If it comes down to a roster spot, the Ravens should favor Marshall over Averett. If it comes down to who they should develop for the future, the answer is the same. While Averett is the more known commodity, Marshall is the one with the most useful traits and the highest potential.