The Ravens have assembled perhaps the most talented secondary in the league and with the addition of Earl Thomas, the comparisons between Baltimore’s cornerback and secondary corps and the iconic “Legion of Boom” are bound to begin.
Thomas was the driving force in the Seahawks secondary for several years. Alongside Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Brandon Browner, among others, Thomas and Seattle’s defensive backfield routinely dominated opposing offenses. Playing against the Seahawks was, more often than not, a dreadful experience, especially on the road.
The iconic LOB group eventually ran their course and fizzled out, but it was an impressive run nonetheless. Now, Thomas could be the final piece in what may be the second coming of the “Legion of Boom”, expect this time, it resides in Baltimore.
The similarities between the two secondaries are striking. Obviously, there’s the common denominator here of Thomas. Even though he’s older now than he was during the LOB era and is coming off a significant injury, Thomas is still a top-notch free safety and possesses the same skills he did several years ago.
Thomas is set to pair up with Tony Jefferson and as was the case with Kam Chancellor, the two could prove to be a dynamic safety duo. Jefferson has yet to prove he can perform on the level of Chancellor, who was a perennial All-Pro and Pro Bowl safety in his prime. Still, they both play strong safety and like Chancellor, Jefferson is a hard-hitting player who thrives near the line of scrimmage and in the box.
Where the Ravens may have the advantage at the safety position, however, is depth. Baltimore might have two starting-caliber safeties behind Thomas and Jefferson: DeShon Elliott and Anthony Levine Sr. Elliott is an uber-talented, rising sophomore whose been turning heads in OTA’s and minicamp, while Levine has been an extremely valuable rotational piece for the Ravens in recent years a hybrid player.
At cornerback, there’s no denying the prominence of the LOB’s four-headed monster: Sherman, Browner, Maxwell, and Thurmond. In his prime, Sherman was probably the league’s best cover corner and the combination of the other three guys made Seattle’s defense nearly impossible to throw on. Sherman was so good that opposing quarterbacks would purposefully ignore whatever side of the field he was on.
The Ravens don’t have a cornerback of his caliber, at least not yet. The most viable candidate would be rising star Marlon Humphrey, who performed at a Pro Bowl level in his sophomore season despite not receiving deserving national recognition. Humphrey could every well ascend to an elite level next year and he’s only 22 years old.
Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr are past their primes but are still plenty capable of performing at a high level. Carr has never missed a start in his 11-year career and is about as steady as they come at the position. He won’t blow anyone away but is productive and consistent. Smith’s injury history ultimately hampered his success but when’s on his game, he’s always been capable of borderline-elite play.
Elsewhere, the Ravens have one of the better slot corners in the league in Tavon Young, whom they signed to a three-year contract extension earlier this offseason. Young is technically only entering his third career season considering he missed his entire sophomore campaign with an injury. Like Humphrey, he too can take his game to another level.
The Ravens have more depth than the Seahawks did at cornerback, too. If any of Baltimore’s starters were to go down with injury, they’d several suitable replacements to choose from. Between Anthony Averett, Iman “Biggie” Marshall, and Maurice Canady, the Ravens have several versatile backups with high upside.
In all likelihood, Smith and/or Carr will no longer be on the team in the next 2-3 years. It’s unfortunate but a reality given each player’s age and contract status. If either of them depart or retire, or both of them, the Ravens have guys who can step up and fill roles as potential long-term starters.
Overall, the Ravens secondary has a lot to prove before reaching a status similar to that of the infamous “Legion of Boom”. The Seahawks fearsome group left a long-lasting legacy and will go down as one of the best collection of safeties and cornerbacks of all time.
On paper, the Ravens talent and depth matches up well to Seattle’s guys, but “on paper” and actual on-field production are two different things. However, the Ravens secondary was already stout last season and the addition of Thomas should take the group to another level.
If things fall into place accordingly, they could be nothing short of dominant. The only thing that Baltimore’s secondary is missing is a nickname. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comment section.