One of the many standing NFL cliches is that you can never have enough cornerbacks. While they’ve had some recent struggles with the position, the Baltimore Ravens historically are very good about following this adage. This offseason was a surefire sign of that, as Ozzie Newsome was quite active in shoring up a position that had given his team some problems over the past few years.
After a strong return to form in 2016, Jimmy Smith returns as the number one corner. Despite some of the health issues he often faces, he is clearly one of the most important players on this defense. This is made clear when he misses time, and two of the additions that Newsome made this offseason will be key in offsetting any absences Smith may eventually face.
The first is Brandon Carr, an almost mythically durable veteran who comes in from Dallas on a four-year deal to play the number two role. Carr’s ability to stay on the field is massive for a team that has trouble keeping their corners healthy for some reason.
Behind Carr is rookie Marlon Humphrey, who might have to step into the slot for Tavon Young who tore his ACL in OTAs. Young had a huge impact as a rookie, and it’s a level of success that Humphrey better hope to have if fans are to ever get over Newsome passing on certain other players to select him. This isn’t totally fair; ahead of the 2016 season, the sky proverbially fell when the Ravens had to "settle" for Ronnie Stanley instead of Jalen Ramsey, and that worked out just fine for both parties.
A few other names to keep an eye on are Maurice Canady and Brandon Boykin. Canady was a 2016 draft pick and has shown promise in preseason practices. Boykin has bounced around the league since 2013 but has been relatively productive at certain points. Sheldon Price should also be in the mix for a roster spot.
While losing Young is huge, this could still be a position of strength for Baltimore in 2017. That is, if no more losses occur this offseason (knock on wood).