Yesterday, ESPN released their annual “NFLRank” article, incorporating the analysis of different team reporters around the league to compose a projection of the top 100 players in the NFL this season. The likes of Aaron Donald, Patrick Mahomes, and Khalil Mack make up the top of the list, but you have to scroll down pretty far to find anyone from Baltimore.
Longtime guard Marshal Yanda comes in at No. 99, while newcomer Earl Thomas clocks in 24 spots higher at No. 73. For comparison, Yanda was ranked 99th in last year’s list and Thomas was No. 28 - representing a steep decline from 2018 to 2019. Missing all but four games last season certainly played a big role his freefall, but in terms of on-field talent, there’s no denying Thomas should be ranked significantly higher.
Same goes for Yanda, too. Even as he ages and injuries become more frequent, Yanda has continued to perform at an extremely high level and was a driving force behind one of the league’s most dominant rushing attacks last season, as ESPN’s Jamison Hensley notes.
“He [Yanda] has been the most dominant lineman of his generation,” Hensley writes. “He is the second-best guard in Pro Football Focus history (since 2006).”
While there’s a legit argument that both Yanda and Thomas should be ranked higher, what’s even more surprising than their placement is the fact that they’re the only Ravens players on the list at all. The likes of Justin Tucker, Tony Jefferson, Michael Pierce, Ronnie Stanley, and Matthew Judon all have cases to be represented on the top-100 list, but the undoubted biggest snub is cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
Humphrey, 23, has ever-so-quietly developed into one of the league’s premier corners. However, the representation Humphrey receives in the national media, or lack thereof, would lead you to believe otherwise. Ravens fans are well aware of Humphrey’s talent and coverage ability, but the writers at ESPN are clearly not up to speed.
The 10 cornerbacks who made the top-100 list are as follows, placed next to their respective ranking:
- No. 24 - Jalen Ramsey, JAX
- No. 33 - Stephon Gilmore, NE
- No. 53 - Marshon Lattimore, NO
- No. 71 - Xavien Howard, MIA
- No. 72 - Chris Harris Jr., DEN
- No. 77 - Patrick Peterson, ARZ
- No. 81 - Kyle Fuller, CHI
- No. 87 - Casey Hayward Jr., LAC
- No. 89 - Denzel Ward, CLE
- No. 97 - Tre’Davious White, BUF
- No. 100 - Darius Slay, DET
Humphrey may not post gaudy interception numbers, but in virtually every other advanced statistic and measure, he’s one of the best. According to PFF, Humphrey has forced 37 incompletions since entering the league two years ago has allowed a passer rating of just 65.7 - the former of which ranks seventh among cornerbacks and the latter ranking third.
Examining the 2018 season alone, Humphrey was targeted 83 times and allowed just 43 receptions, good for a catch rate of 52.2% - which ranked seventh in the NFL. His forced incompletion rate of 22.5% was the third-best mark.
Each of the corners that made ESPN’s top-100 list are undoubtedly talented, but it’s hard to argue Humphrey isn’t deserving of a spot himself. Humphrey was the anchor of the league’s top-ranked defense last season and will once again play an instrumental role as Baltimore’s No. 1 cornerback in 2019.
What other Ravens players do you think deserved to be on the list? Share your thoughts down below and join the conversation!