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PFF: Tavon Young among top 10 rookies in the NFL

The Baltimore Ravens have found a great young cornerback

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Kim Hairston, Baltimore Sun

Baltimore Ravens fourth round rookie cornerback Tavon Young has earned placement on Pro Football Focus’ Top 10 Rookies Entering Week 11:

Young is sandwiched between safeties Keanu Neal of the Falcons and Andrew Adams of the Giants on PFF’s rankings. According to their grading system, Tavon has played better than first and second round cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey, Vernon Hargreaves, Eli Apple, William Jackson III, Artie Burns, Kendall Fuller and Xavien Howard this season.

A bit undersized for the position of outside corner, Young has been able to overcome his limitations though a combination of aggressiveness, physicality, sticky coverage and a nose for the football. Tavon has provided the Ravens with their best starting cornerback tandem since Jimmy Smith became the team’s de facto top cornerback in 2013. Veteran Jerraud Powers is also playing well in the slot. The trio of cornerbacks has helped the Ravens ascend to the fifth ranked passing defense in terms of yardage allowed, and post the second most interceptions in the NFL.

With Shareece Wright struggling amidst ineffectiveness and a hamstring injury, Young’s fast development has been invaluable to the team. Depth at cornerback has become an issue due to various injuries, leaving the recently acquired Chris Lewis-Harris and recently promoted Asa Jackson as the only healthy backups to Young. A fourth round rookie who has not only proved serviceable at a demanding position, but actually excelled, is highly impressive.

The Ravens depth chart in the secondary is cause for optimism about the future. Jimmy Smith is under contract through the 2019 season, and Young’s cost controlled rookie deal also expires in 2019. Tavon will be wearing purple, with below market compensation, for at least a few more years. Add savvy safety Eric Weddle, who is also signed through 2019, and a robust foundation is in place.

However, with nearly two thirds of all snaps defended by nickel formation, the Ravens should continue supplementing their depth at cornerback in the offseason. Young’s ability to excel in either the slot or outside as a ‘field’ corner will give the team versatility going forward.

After several years of searching for a quality cornerback, and cycling through assorted castoffs and journeymen, the Baltimore Ravens have found a fine player in Tavon Young.