The Baltimore Ravens were poised to have arguably the best secondary in the NFL heading into the 2020 season with three Pro Bowlers leading the way. When they released seven-time Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas just before the season and only one year into a four-year deal worth $55 million, the responsibility for replacing him in the starting lineup fell on the shoulders of DeShon Elliott.
Not much was known about the 2018 sixth-round pick out of Texas who had spent most of his first two seasons in the league on injured reserve. He suffered a broken forearm in the preseason of his rookie year and a knee injury limited him to just six games in his second.
Elliott rewarded their confidence in him by not only staying healthy, starting every game in the regular and postseason, but he also played at a high level and improved as the year went on. He finished 2020 with career highs across the board including sacks (2.5), forced fumbles (2), pass deflections (4), quarterback hits (5), and tackles where his 80 combined was the fourth most on the team.
Heading into the final year of his rookie contract and second as a full-time starter, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh commended him on his fast and loose playing style and shared the areas where he has grown.
“He always wanted to play fast. He always wants to just cut it loose and go, which you want that. Now, I think he knows where he is going better,” said Harbaugh following Saturday's practice.
“He really understands the defense. He understands how we organize the coverages. He understands what responsibilities he has, or what opportunities he has, to make certain calls to put us in the best situation. He’s doing a great job of that. He was good last year, and he got better as the year went on. But this year, he’s taken it to another level that way.”
He brings energy in practice, lays the wood with bone-jarring hits as the enforcer in the Ravens’ defensive backfield, and showed improved range in coverage down the stretch last season.
If Elliott can continue to stay on the field and show the growth that his coach detailed once the regular season rolls around, he’ll make a strong case to receive an extension from the Ravens.