The Ravens have not been dominating on defense for several years now, and the team looks to be lacking in the leadership department since the departure of Ed Reed and Ray Lewis. Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Daryl Smith and Haloti Ngata are nice players, but none of them have been able to bring to the field what the Ravens lost in the offseason following their last championship.
In a related area, the Ravens secondary has been a big weak point, unable to replace the veteran contributions of Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, James Ihedigbo, and Corey Graham, all who left in the span of 2 offseasons. While injuries have surely played a role in the lack of productivity from this unit over the past 2 seasons, the unit has proven to be lacking, especially in the department of forcing turnovers.
Jimmy Smith, the best corner since Chris McAlister to wear a Ravens uniform was lost mid-2014, and did not find his form until mid-2015. Opposite him, the Ravens have started Lardarius Webb, who the team as of now plans to play at safety this season. The rest of the Ravens depth chart at corner has been unimpressive, besides a nice run in late 2015 from the now-resigned Shareece Wright. The Ravens are expected to bolster the unit in the draft, not to mention the promising Will Davis returning from injury and developmental prospect Tray Walker entering his second year.
Safety is the bigger concern. The Ravens have had failed experiments with Michael Huff, Darien Stewart, and Kendrick Lewis since Reed's retirement, and the only solid play they have seen was from the since departed James Ihedigbo, Will Hill III in 2014 although he showed some regression last year, and Matt Elam playing free safety his rookie year.
This season every player has question marks. Elam followed up a terrible sophomore campaign with a training camp injury which sidelined him for the season. Lardarius Webb has not played safety since college. Terrence Brooks development has not come along as quickly as we hoped. Hill showed some regression in 2015, although he is still the best one on the roster. And it is shocking Kendrick Lewis has not been cut yet with his play last season.
So it comes as no surprise that despite all those options at the position, the Ravens have looked to upgrade. They missed on Rodney McLeod after he got a big 5 year deal from the Philadelphia Eagles. Now the Ravens are rumored to be one of the four finalists for former Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, a player they coveted coming out of college. The now 31 year old Weddle has battled injuries in recent years, so the question is, can he still be that game changing player, should he choose the Ravens.
So far this offseason the Ravens have been in the rumors much more than in previous years, but nothing has come to fruition. Will Weddle be that big splash the Ravens are looking to make? Can he bring stability to the back end if he chooses to come to Baltimore? His pedigree would be the biggest the Ravens have featured back there since 2012, but will his production match the big name?
These are all valid questions which we likely not have answers to until the 2016 season is in the books, but should the Ravens agree to a deal with Weddle, the hope is that he is the answer for the Ravens embattled secondary. Let's hope he is.