The Baltimore Ravens don’t like to make a habit out of picking in the top 20 picks of the NFL Draft each year because it often means that they failed to reach the postseason the year before. However, when they do wind up picking in that range or even lower, they land a blue-chip prospect more often than not.
That’s exactly what they got when they selected Marlon Humphrey No. 16 overall out of the University of Alabama in 2017. Since coming into the league, he has blossomed into one of the best cornerbacks in the game and cemented himself as a franchise cornerstone as evidenced by the huge extension he signed last October.
Humphrey earned his big payday with elite play over the last two years where he earned First-Team All-Pro honors in 2019 and back-to-back Pro Bowl bids. While the league is just now starting to realize and acknowledge his greatness, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh has been a believer a lot longer.
“I’ve felt like the last year and a half or so he’s one of the top corners in the league,” Harbaugh said. “I’m talking Top 2, [Top] 3, [Top] 4 in the league. Now, everybody else is maybe starting to see what we’ve all seen, because we watch him every single week.”
Harbaugh loves Humphrey for the physicality he plays with but is even more enamored with the way he carries and conducts himself in practice. He approaches the preparation process the same way he does in actual live game situations when the stakes are at their highest.
“The thing about Marlon, and what the other guys watch about Marlon is when he runs a drill, he doesn’t just run a drill. He runs a drill as if it’s the last play in the Super Bowl,” Harbaugh added. “He comes out of a break trying to gain ground like he’s trying to go make a play on a ball in a critical situation – every single rep. When you do it like that, you can’t help but get better.”
One character trait that many of the greatest athletes to ever play any sport have in common with each other is that they chase perfection within every practice as well as every real competition. They prepare and play at one speed which is often at a high intensity and in a disciplined manner.
Aspiring masters of their respective crafts are self-motivated, embrace challenges head-on, overcome adversity and find ways to break through their ceiling in order to reach new heights previously unknown. That is the kind of defender and genuine person Humphrey has shown and continues to be, on and off the field.