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Ravens Coach’s Film: Tavon is a Young bright spot

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The Ravens may have found a young cornerback who fits well in their scheme.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Continuing the Ravens Coach’s Film series, I wanted to focus on a younger player who could stick with the team and I found one in Tavon Young. Young was the Raven’s fourth round pick in 2016 and was forced into extensive action during a Week 5 showdown with Washington, he played well throughout the rest of the year. With free agency and the draft looming, I wanted to see what the Ravens had in a position that many outside the team believe they need to address.

The Good

Like many Ravens before him, Tavon Young is a very physical player. The 5-foot-9, 177 pound corner doesn't let his size take him out of a play and will step up to the challenge against any receiver.

Young, at the top of the clip, is matched up against the speedy DeSean Jackson. Not many corners can run stride for stride with Jackson and that includes Young, so what he does is make hard contact with Jackson within five yards to throw him off of his route. That is Kirk Cousins’ first read and because Jackson is unable to cleanly break on his route Cousins has to scan the rest of the field. Nothing else opens for him and Terrell Suggs drops him for the sack.

Both of the plays above are man coverage. On the first one the Giants call a perfect man beater and Young gets burned on the corner route for a touchdown. With the Ravens in a Cover-1 defense there is only one safety overtop and he can't get over to the left side of the defense to help Young. Young is unable to press because of the formation and he doesn't do a good job of rerouting the receiver which would be his only hope to stay close enough to have a chance to make a play on the ball or receiver. On the second play we see some rookie on rookie action as the Ravens are in cover one again with the safety shaded noticeably over towards Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants star receiver. New York tries to take advantage of this play shell by giving their playmakers one-on-one matchups at the bottom of the clip. From here Young does an excellent job at jamming Sterling Shepard at the line and riding his hip. The receiver trips and Young is able to snatch the ball out of the air and give his offense excellent field position.

Above is another example of Young getting physical with a receiver and not biting on Garçon’s stutter step. Young is at the bottom of the clip and stays stride for stride with Garçon, giving him no room to separate. The most impressive thing about this play for me is Young not getting overpowered by the bigger Garçon who has a reputation for being aggressive with defensive backs. The second play is Young playing man coverage with Antonio Brown. There is safety help over the top, but Young stays with him and doesn't allow him to get a clean break at the top of his route and he keeps his leverage to the outside. If Brown goes to the post theres a safety there to take that away and if he goes to the outside - which he ultimately does - then he has to fight through Young.

This is the last play I’ll mention before moving on to the next part of Young’s game, but matched up one-on-one against a much bigger tight end, Young is able to go up and make a play on this ball standing his ground. Tavon welcomes any challenge which brings me to the next strength in his game.

Cornerbacks aren't particularly known for their ability to tackle. Often when coaches are scheming run plays they’ll design the play to get the runner in open space or a one-on-one situation against a cornerback. When Seattle’s defense emerged a few years ago, the idea of corners who could play well in coverage as well as against the run was tossed around amongst coaching staffs. I am here to tell you that Tavon Young may be one of the best tackling corners in the league.

The above plays are tackles that 5’9” Tavon Young made against players such as the elusive Le’Veon Bell and the towering Brandon Marshall. Tackling Bell is a task all in itself, but to bring him down in space is a challenge many defensive players have attempted only to be embarrassed.

Another trait I really liked about Young was his awareness of where he was on the field and his communication. In the first play at the bottom of the clip, you'll notice Young doesn't get lost in coverage, drops back and switches to take the receiver running to the corner. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick never looks to that side of the field but often you'll see teams get burned in situations where there is a lack of communication between players and a receiver ends up wide open in blown coverage. On the second play Big Ben is scrambling to his right and Young recognizes immediately that there is only one place for him to go, so he bursts up towards Le’Veon Bell in the flat to tackle him just short on third down deep in Pittsburgh territory. Young’s quick feet and recognition allowed him to close out and break up short passes or drop receivers for minimal gains all season long.

The Bad

We’ve all heard the stories about Tavon Young being a track athlete in high school, but unfortunately he showed a lack of long speed all year long.

Young’s first mistake - not making contact with Jackson- leads to his second mistake. Because Tavon doesn't make contact, Jackson gets a free release off the line and Young simply lacks the speed to keep up with him. Luckily, Cousins threw off of the mark because the safety help on the play was terrible. I showed a play earlier where Young was able to get physical with Jackson and disrupt his route. If he had done that here it may have allowed the safety to get in better position to help.

At the bottom of this clip Young is playing off coverage on Antonio Brown, giving him a 10-yard cushion. The Ravens come out in the Cover-2 shell right before the snap. Despite this look Young has no safety help past the Pittsburgh 45-yard line which is where Brown starts to separate. had the pressure not come up the middle when it did, Young was likely beaten for a 75-yard touchdown.

My other negative with Young comes from his off coverage in goal situations. He’ll often play too far off of his receiver in man situations and he gets beat to the inside. On the first play its Malcolm Mitchell and on the second play its Dez Bryant. The first play is an inability to close on the receiver quickly. With the blitz coming, you want to keep a receiver occupied long enough so that the QB has to hold the ball. If Young was a yard closer he may have had a chance to bat the ball down, forcing the Patriots to settle for a field goal. On the second play Young is playing about eight yards off and fails to open his hips quick enough. In all honesty if QB Dak Prescott throws a better ball here its likely a walk in touchdown, but the pass is a little high giving Young a chance to stop him short of the goal line, which he is unable to do.

Conclusion

There is a lot of discussion on the secondary and what the Ravens should do with it going forward. This is a team that likes to play a lot of Cover-2 and if they continue that trend, Young can thrive in Baltimore. Young would often have safety help over top to avoid being beaten deep and when he is asked to go into a one-on-one situation, he is aggressive enough and has a decent enough technique to where he can hold his own and make his man uncomfortable. The idea has been tossed around that may move inisde as a slot corner because of his size, but with the consistent play and promise he showed during his rookie year he can stay outside and thrive across from Jimmy Smith.

Follow me on Twitter: @Tjack94