The Ravens secondary was berated as it fell apart down the stretch of the 2016 season. Injuries crippled the unit as the overall defense fell down the ranks of total defense after being ranked number one at points during the 2016 season. However, considering the whole body of work over the course of the 2016 season, the Ravens secondary was very good. Pro Football Focus (PFF) would agree as it ranked the unit as the 10th best secondary in the NFL for the 2016 season.
PFF’s Matt Claassen writes about the Ravens, “We weren’t quite sure what to expect from Eric Weddle with his new team following a 2015 performance that left him with his second below-average run-defense grade of his career and his lowest coverage grade since 2010. That said, Weddle was nothing short of spectacular in his first season with Baltimore, and earned a first team All-Pro selection from us. Despite a few early struggles, Lardarius Webb actually transitioned pretty well from cornerback to safety, and earned a top-five coverage grade at the position over the final nine weeks of the season. Outside of rookie Tavon Young, cornerback play was fairly average, while Jimmy Smith once again missed significant time due to injury.”
Eric Weddle highlighted the Ravens secondary in 2016 as he received the highest overall grade of the Ravens secondary by PFF. Weddle also had the highest grade against the run, and in coverage. In addition, Weddle led the Ravens secondary in snaps. Most notably, Weddle finished the year at PFF’s number one rated safety in the NFL.
Lardarius Webb also had a great year, finishing as PFF’s 16th highest grade safety with an 84.0 overall grade. Webb had suffered multiple down years at corner at a row, and with poor play coming from the the free safety position, the Ravens were prompted to move Webb to safety. At least after his first season at the position, the move seems to have been a good one.
Rookie Tavon Young was very impressive this season, and was the highest graded Ravens cornerback by PFF, receiving an 80.3 overall grade. Young impressed with great ball skills, especially as he consistently faced bigger receivers.
Jimmy Smith was second to Young with a 76.2 grade. Smith had an injury laden 2016 season, and the defense was a different unit without him. It’s fair to wonder what could have been had Smith been in the lineup for the whole game against the Patriots and against the Steelers in Week 16.
The Ravens secondary undoubtedly needs to add depth, but the unit does have solid pieces to build around. As long as the trio of Weddle, Smith and Young can all stay on the field, the Ravens secondary could prove to be one of the best in the NFL next season.