Tavon Young is coming back off an injury in 2020 without a specified role in the Baltimore Ravens defense. Perhaps they can create one just for him.
It wasn’t that long ago that Tavon Young was one of the best slot cornerbacks in all of football. Unfortunately for him, he’s fought the injury bug since coming into the NFL in 2016. Young has missed two full seasons (2017, 2019) with injuries (ACL tear and neck surgery respectively). When he has been on the field, he’s been lights out.
Tavon Young is a ball magnet who aligns perfectly in the slot for the Baltimore Ravens. In 31 games played in the 2016 season (rookie year) and the 2018 seasons, Young has racked up seven turnovers (three interceptions, four fumble recoveries) and scored two touchdowns. Young has shown the ability to be a good press corner as well as a free-roaming defender who’s a sure tackler in space. All in all, Tavon Young is the complete package at slot cornerback.
The problem here for Young, not so much the Ravens, is that his position might be filled. Baltimore is loaded at the cornerback slot thanks to the three-man group of Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith, the first of whom were First-Team All-Pros in 2019. Humphrey particularly will give Young fits, as he played in the slot quite a bit last season with excellent return profits.
With this in mind, Young won’t be able to simply waltz in and reclaim his job. Right now, he is firmly the team’s fourth corner on the depth chart, which isn’t a starting role for him. It’s a great problem for Baltimore, as an embarrassment of riches at such an important position is incredibly important, but not for Young.
There is a solution for both, however, one that will get Young on the field more often and allow the Ravens to get the most out of their younger defender.
Make Tavon Young a slot safety.
The slot safety is a relatively new position in the NFL. You won’t find many teams utilizing a slot safety regularly, but perhaps it’s because there simply aren’t that many that are worth starting. If you can’t think of any off the top of your head, allow me to remind you that the Kansas City Chiefs have an All-Pro at that position in a player by the name of Tyrann Mathieu, a.k.a. “The Honeybadger.” Micah Hyde (Buffalo Bills) and Budda Baker (Arizona Cardinals) are also so terrific examples of what the position looks like.
The guys mentioned thrive as slot safeties, where they’re allowed to play deep, roaming safety but also come up and make plays inside the box. They have elite instincts with optimism and reliability that makes them a rare breed. Not everyone can do this job well, but Tavon Young seems like he’d be a great fit for this position.
By moving Young into this role as a slot safety, the Ravens are allowing Young to remain a cover-man by nature while also allowing him to attack the ball. Young would also have a chance to see more significant playing time and allow Baltimore to field one of its best defenders more consistently. It’s the best of both worlds for both parties.
While a role as a slot safety hardly means Tavon Young will be a starter, it does make it to where he’ll see quite a bit of time on the field, at least more than if he were pegged to be just a slot corner. The slot safety position is a great move the Baltimore Ravens can make here and Young would absolutely thrive in it. it would also be a great way to make some noise and remind everyone just how good Tavon Young is.