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Ravens News 7/10: All-AFCN OL, OROY candidates and more

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Baltimore Ravens Portraits Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images for Fox Sports

The Ravens Are All in at Cornerback - John Eisenberg

The Ravens have so many quality corners that it seems clear who’ll make the team. Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey will share the outside positions. Tavon Young ranks among the league’s highest-paid slot corners. Anthony Averett and Iman Marshall, recent fourth-round draft picks, are developing.

One of the hottest debates in the burgeoning world of football analytics is whether it’s more important to have a great pass rush or stout pass defense. Interesting question.

The Ravens seemingly have taken a side in the debate. They let two of their best pass rushers depart via free agency this year rather than pay the high prices they commanded. Meanwhile, they shelled out handsomely to re-up with Carr and retain Smith.

They’ve gone all in at cornerback. And I’m guessing that not for one second in 2019 will they regret it.

Marlon Humphrey emerging as one of the top outside cornerbacks in the NFL - Gordon McGuinness

Drafted with the 16th selection in the 2017 NFL draft, Humphrey was brought along slowly by the Ravens in his rookie season, playing more than 30 snaps on defense just twice in the opening nine games of the 2017 season. However, he was still able to show flashes of what was to come by allowing only 13 of the 27 passes thrown into his coverage to be caught and coming away with four pass breakups.

He became a staple of the team’s defense late in the year, however, starting the final four games of the season and playing a season-high 89 snaps against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 14. That game saw him in coverage for 73 of those 89 snaps and targeted 12 times, and while he allowed six receptions, those receptions went for a total of just 37 yards, averaging out at a mere 6.2 yards per reception.

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates: Kyler Murray leads - Lance Zierlein

4) Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens

”Hollywood” may be slightly built, but his ability to find the paint as a deep-ball option on the outside or a catch-and-run specialist from the slot gives him the nod as the top receiver on the OROY board. Brown is special with the ball in his hands, so look for Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman to load him up with receiver screens and shallow crossers to not only attack defenses but also elevate Lamar Jackson’s confidence early in games. Brown has a chance to become the most-targeted pass catcher on the team.

Forecasting Baltimore Ravens statistical leaders: Who’ll be the team’s top receiver? - Aaron Kasinitz

The favorite: Willie Snead

The Ravens’ receiving depth chart remains jumbled as training camp approaches, and it’s difficult to predict which pass catchers will surround quarterback Lamar Jackson most often. Snead stands as the top choice here in part because he’s the only proven option of the bunch.

As a tough, reliable slot receiver with a knack for finding seams in the defense, Snead won’t break games open or load up highlight reels in 2019 the way some of his teammates might. But he does offer Jackson a security blanket and could catch enough passes to amass more receiving yards than any of his teammates.

NFL Preseason All-AFC North Team: A look at the top offensive linemen in the division - Tyler Dragon

Ravens guard Marshal Yanda

After an ankle injury ended his 2017 season prematurely, Yanda returned to form in 2018.

Yanda started every game for the reining division champs at right guard. He surrendered zero sacks and was flagged for just one holding penalty.

The Iowa product is arguably the best all-around guard in the NFL. His good strength and leverage allows him to win his matchups more often than not. The seven-time Pro Bowler and two-time first team All-Pro is the anchor on Baltimore’s O-line.