The Baltimore Ravens have yet again sustained a crippling injury before preseason. This year, it’s sophomore cornerback and rising star, Tavon Young.
But after yesterday’s sadness, it’s time to get the wheels back on track, who’s the next man up?
To replace Young, the team has a two-piece question. Who can play outside, at CB2, and who is the nickel corner? While Tavon was the second best at corner on the team, he was the favorite for nickel, or CB3 by some standards. His incredible speed, agility and overall skill was reaps a higher value on the inside. Now, it’s searching to find the same talent, without sacrificing too much at outside corner.
Brandon Carr is the expected starter, opposite Jimmy Smith. He’s consistent, and is a perfect compliment to the Ravens style. He’s consistently played against number one and two receivers on the outside. Before Young’s injury, Carr was expected to play CB2 anyways; now, it feels like a foregone conclusion.
Ozzie prepared this team for the worst after the last two seasons of secondary collapses and injuries. He prepared by going against the grain with the first round pick this season, selecting Marlon Humphrey, 16 overall. The pick is paying divedends early, as Humphrey can now fill in where needed. Many believe this was a transition year for him, but it’s becoming a trial by fire. The rookie has the opportunity to play against shorter, faster, NFL receivers, which can work to his strength. He’s bigger, but doesn’t lack NFL speed. His greatest weakness, according to scouts, is deep ball coverage. Slot receivers aren’t usually the nine-route runners, as they need greater separation from corners and safeties to make the catch. This can play in the Ravens favor, with a big season of reps for the rookie while Tavon rehabs back from the ACL injury. As of now, Humphrey is my favorite for the nickel corner battle.
Maurice Canady, the Ravens sixth round pick in 2016, can find a real role with the CB shuffle. During OTA’s, Canady nabbed three interceptions, including a leaping pick against receiver Chris Moore, according to pressboxonline’s, Bo Smolka. More from Bo, Canady replaced Young during the June 1 OTA workout.
I don’t expect Canady to nab the nickel role though, he’s too big and not quite there yet, skill-wise. NFL caliber slot receivers are quick to punish the wrong move, and Humphrey is a better prospect. There’s a reason one went 16th overall, while the other was taken in the sixth round. This doesn’t mean he’s not capable of a great depth role, which the Ravens desperately need still.
The Ravens are well equipped to handle this big loss with the stockpiling of defensive backs over the past few seasons. It’s a big blow to the secondary, but it won’t stop this team from marching on.
Who is your favorite for the nickel corner position?
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