Entering the 2016 NFL Draft, it was obvious the Ravens needed help in the secondary. General Manager Ozzie Newsome and fans alike hoped for what seemed impossible, Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey sitting on the board at the sixth overall pick. Newsome knew it was against all odds to find Ramsey available at six, and attempted to trade up to the fourth overall selection to take him. The trade would not come to fruition as the owners of the number four pick, the Dallas Cowboys, believed the Ravens wanted to select their top target, Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys would take Elliott and the Jaguars would take Ramsey with the fifth overall pick. As a result, Newsome decided the offensive line would be the best route for the team to take. Make no mistake, this decision was already determined weeks ago with the Ravens stellar scout squad. The only change at six may have been the decision from Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil to Notre Dame product Ronnie Stanley. We all remember the release of a video depicting former Laremy Tunsil smoking a bong.
The Ravens did not get their original target, and did not select a corner in the second round, where they took LB Kamelei Correa. The also picked a different position in the third where Newsome went with DE Bronson Kaufusi. In the fourth round however, the Ravens selected a small cornerback from Temple named Tavon Young.
Following yet another stellar showing, Young has proven himself to be one of the top rookie corners in the NFL.
Against the Eagles, Young had three tackles, but more notably, a key pass breakup that preventing a would be Eagles touchdown (the play is depicted in the main image, top of the page). The pass was intended for Dorial Green-Beckham, a receiver standing eight inches taller than Young. Tavon’s ability to make that play: spectacular.
Young spent the majority of the day covering Nelson Agholor and Green-Beckham, both bigger receivers capable of burning corners down field (despite the fact neither are living up to potential). But Young was undaunted. Outside of one pass interference call, Young stayed clear from mistakes. In fact, it was rare to see Carson Wentz looking in Young’s direction throughout the game.
Young’s strong play has been a storyline week after week for the Ravens after his breakout game against the Browns in Week 10. Injuries gave Young the chance to start, an opportunity he has taken and ran with. Young currently looks to be the clear number two corner behind Jimmy Smith, solving the Ravens secondary issues from 2015 and early in 2016.
The Ravens failure to land Ramsey has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the Ravens. As previously discussed, Young’s overall play has been spectacular, but his numbers are nearly identical to the much more hyped Ramsey. Young has eight passes defended on the year to Ramsey’s nine. Young has two interceptions, Ramsey has one. Ramsey has eleven more total tackles on the season than Young, which isn’t as much as it sounds considering Ramsey started from day one, while Young didn’t crack the staring lineup until later in the season.
The Ravens got a player in the fourth round that produces on the level of a first rounder, talk about a steal. In addition, if the Ravens had selected Ramsey, they would not have Ronnie Stanley, who has turned into a spectacular lineman. According to Pro Football Focus, Stanley has been elite at keeping an elite quarterback on his feet.
Ravens rookie LT Ronnie Stanley hasn't allowed a Sack or QB Hit since Week 9 against the Pittsburgh Steelers (270 pass pro snaps)— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) December 19, 2016
Not allowing a single QB hit since Week 9 is incredible. It has allowed Joe Flacco to not worry about what may come off his blind side; thus creating confidince in the pocket. Reminder, this is confidence and trust from a quarterback coming off a major knee injury. Oh yeah, Ronnie’s a pretty great guy off the field too.
Not trading up to get Jalen Ramsey stung, but hindsight is giving Baltimore a satisfying perspective.