It has been one crazy offseason in Baltimore. One of the biggest needs on the team coming into the offseason was the secondary, but now the unit looks like one of the team’s strengths.
This offseason, the Ravens brought in Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr in addition to bringing back Lardarius Webb after cutting him in March. These moves helped to strengthen the starting secondary unit, as well as its depth. As a result, the Ravens could very well produce the best secondary in the NFL.
At cornerback, the Ravens posses three truly solid starters.
Jimmy Smith will continue to be the number one guy. He has struggled with injuries, but when he is on the field, he is one of the top corners in the NFL.
In recent years, the Ravens have not had a player that was reliable opposite Jimmy Smith. In 2016, Tavon Young played well opposite Smith, but Young is best suited for the slot. Therefore, the Ravens went out and signed Carr, a player who received a 75.3 grade of Pro Football Focus last season. Carr is not just reliable to be on the field, but he is reliable to produce strong levels of play as well.
In addition, the Ravens can now move its promising young corner, Tavon Young, to the slot where he truly belongs. If Young can continue his strong outside play from last season, he will quickly climb the ranks of NFL slot corners. Young was actually the Ravens’ highest graded corner on Pro Footbalk Focus last season.
But what makes this secondary unit truly special is the two starting safeties. Eric Weddle and Jefferson will form the best safety duo in the NFL this season. Jefferson received a 88.6 grade on Pro Football Focus last year and Weddle received a 92.4. Bout were ranked as top five safeties in the League in 2016. The duo will make it nearly impossible for opposing quarterbacks to find a window to throw down the field. If the corners make a mistake, the two elite safeties will be able to bail them out.
The re-signing of Webb is a much bigger signing than it may appear on the surface. Webb plays both safety and corner, and he knows the Ravens’ system well. The versatile depth Webb provides could pay off in a big way for the Ravens. Even if he doesn't see the field much, Webb could help to mentor the younger defensive backs, Jefferson, Young and whomever the Ravens draft this year.
No, the Ravens don't have a big name shutdown corner like Aqib Talib, Richard Sherman of Patrick Peterson, but they do have a very strong overall unit. No team in the League can match Baltimore’s talent at safety, but the overall unit at corner could surprise many. If the group is able to work as a cohesive unit, Baltimore could wind up with the NFL’s top secondary in 2017.