When the Baltimore Ravens made Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey the 16th pick of the 2017 NFL draft, the reaction by many was more surprise and disappointment than praise. Now over a year later, those who reacted that way look pretty foolish after Humphrey put forth a strong rookie season.
Slotted to start and not lacking for confidence, the sky appears to be the limit for the 22-year-old defender. Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon agrees, listing Humphrey as Baltimore’s “next big thing” in a recent article:
“We’ll wait to crown rookie Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has by many accounts made a strong impression early but logically has a long way to go in his quest to become a franchise passer. Instead, 2017 first-round cornerback Marlon Humphrey is a surer-thing for the Baltimore. The No. 16 overall pick out of Alabama came on late in his rookie year, ranking in the top 10 among qualified corners with an opposing passer rating of 46.7 and catch rate of 45.3 during the final seven weeks of the regular season, according to Pro Football Focus. He also picked off a pair of passes during that stretch, and what’s scary is he has a lot of room to improve. The man just turned 22 this summer.”
The point Gagnon makes about Humphrey having room to improve is well made. For such a young player last season, he displayed tremendous one-on-one ability and seemed comfortable with a heavy workload, which should translate well into a consistent career.
Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young and Anthony Averett all surround Humphrey to form what is likely the deepest (and arguably best) cornerback room in the league. With their help, Humphrey shouldn’t have any problem making the next leap in his career in 2018.
Beyond that? Hopefully someday he’ll be the “big thing” but for now I’m sure he’ll settle for “next.”