When the 2017 NFL Draft began, it didn’t appear that cornerback was atop the Ravens list of needs. The Ravens needed pass rushers, offensive lineman and wide receivers. After signing Brandon Carr, drafting a corner in the first round seemed unlikely. But after three quarterbacks went in the top 15 as well as a run on offensive players, it was clear that a blue-chip defender was going to fall to the Ravens. With so much talent on the board, Ozzie Newsome took the best player available, and that was Marlon Humphrey, a cornerback from Alabama.
Throughout parts of training camp and the preseason when he was healthy, Humphrey was immensely impressive. Against the Saints in the final game of the preseason, Humphrey was targeted often, and held up every time.
In the regular season, Humphrey hasn’t had high snap counts, but when he has been in the game, he’s been very effective. In Week 3 against the Jaguars, the Ravens, overall, were terrible. However, there were a couple of bright spots, one of them being Marlon Humphrey.
As was the case against the Bengals and the Browns, Humphrey saw a limited snap count, but against the Jaguars, when Humphrey was in, he was targeted.
Humphrey was targeted multiple times in the final six minutes of the first half, including a few plays in the end zone, just like the play below.
Humphrey is at the bottom of the screen matchup up against Marqise Lee. Lee runs a fade, and Blake Bortles is looking to have Lee win a jump ball in the corner of the end zone. Humphrey is with Lee right from the line of scrimmage, and does not allow him any room to work with. Humphrey being right on Lee provides Bortles with a very tight window to throw into. Humphrey stays with Lee stride for stride, and times his jump well. Lee is able to make the catch, but because of how well Humphrey stayed on Lee, as well as a throw from Bortles that led Lee a little too far, Humphrey is able to keep Lee from getting his feet down in bounds, preventing a touchdown.
Humphrey is lined up outside again on this play. Humphrey falls ever so slightly behind the receiver as a result of a move near the line of scrimmage. Through the whole draft process, one of the qualities that was talked about Humphrey the most was his recovery, it’s a skill he showed well here. Bortles tries to fit a throw in to the receiver around the Jaguars 43 yard line. Humphrey, despite falling slightly behind, stays right with the receiver, and makes a great play on the ball once it arrives. Humphrey is able to cut in front of the receiver, and dive into the path of the ball. Humphrey’s outstretched arm in front of the receiver is enough to knock the ball away.
Finally, another play of Humphrey being tested in the end zone. This is very similar to the first of Humphrey in the end zone. On this play, Humphrey is on the other side of the field than the first time, but he is able to execute just as well. Humphrey stays glued to the receiver, allowing literally no room to throw the ball. Bortles tries to force the ball in anyway, but Humphrey is right there. With his better positioning, Humphrey is able to reach up and knock the ball away, again, preventing a touchdown.
These weren’t the only times Humphrey was targeted throughout the game. The Jaguars threw deep down the sideline to Lee in the second quarter, and Humphrey’s tight coverage prevented Lee from making a play on the ball. Unfortunately, Humphrey was the victim of a bad pass interference call on that play.
All in all, Humphrey hasn’t always been covering the star receivers, and he hasn’t seen a large sum of playing time (with the exception of the Saints game in the preseason) as the Ravens work to ease in their promising rookie. In every opportunity that Humphrey has had, he has impressed. It may just be three weeks into the season, but the Ravens have a budding star in its secondary.