After ranking No. 32 in passing defense last season, the Baltimore Ravens and General Manager Eric DeCosta got to work on rebuilding their secondary. Fortunately, most of the work was simply getting back two All-Pro cornerbacks in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. But the Ravens still used the offseason as an opportunity to usher in fresh talent, signing top free agent safety Marcus Williams and drafting top safety prospect Kyle Hamilton with the No. 14 pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Now, the secondary looks far more capable of defending passing offenses, ultimatley leading PFF’s Michael Renner to consider them the No. 1 NFL secondary.
No. 1 - Baltimore Ravens
There are a lot of complete secondaries around the NFL, making the Tier 1 rankings a toss-up in a number of ways. The Ravens simultaneously have some of the most question marks heading into 2022 from a health perspective while also possessing the highest-end elite potential. Four of their five starters have earned top-10 grades at their respective positions at some point over the past four seasons. And this list doesn’t even include rookie first-rounder Kyle Hamilton, who will undoubtedly factor in heavily.
It’s fair to question the Ravens’ health after a historically injured-marred season, but all signs point to those who missed last season will return. If Peters and Humphrey return to form, they’re arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. If they return and aren’t the same players they were, it can be assumed they’ll still be effective starters. Now, they’ll be paired with one of the best coverage safeties over the past five years with Williams and the always dependable Chuck Clark.
As Renner noted, this is all without considering expected-star Hamilton, who many considered to be one of, if not the best draft prospect in this years’ class. To go along with the starting unit, they also significantly improved the depth at the position with second-year defensive back Brandon Stephens, cornerback Kyle Fuller and the rookie pair of Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion “Pepe” Williams.
In short, the Ravens have—on paper, fixed their greatest 2021 flaw this offseason. The secondary was carved up twice by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, and the back-half of the schedule that allowed an average of 284 passing yards per game. With the return of their injured starting corners and better depth to account for any losses, the Ravens’ secondary appears capable of defending the ever-growing NFL passing game.