2. DeShon Elliott, S, Ravens
The Ravens couldn’t really have asked for more from DeShon Elliott when he was unexpectedly thrust into a starting role in 2020.
Following the unexpected release of Earl Thomas, Elliott became the team’s Week 1 starter at free safety despite having played just six career games prior.
A sixth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Elliott missed his entire rookie season with a fractured forearm before returning in 2019 as a reserve safety. Unfortunately, a knee injury landed him on the injured reserve once again in October.
Elliott was expected to play a backup role again in 2020, but Thomas’ release thrust him into the spotlight. And he managed to exceed most expectations.
The 24-year-old finished with a very respectable PFF grade of 69.6 that ranked 28th out of all safeties in the NFL. It was a strong showing from the young safety —one that had many projecting his future with the organization.
Elliott must prove that he can both stay healthy and keep up the same level of play again in 2021. But if he does that, an extension likely won’t be too far ahead in his future.
With the Ravens balancing a delicate cap situation, Elliott is a player the team could look to move on from in a cost-cutting measure if one of the young safeties on the roster (not that Elliott is old, of course) steps up.
But Elliott could put all those talks to bed if he plays as well as he did last year.