With training camp beginning next week, we’ll take a look at a position group for the 2017 Ravens every day as they aim to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014.
Projected depth chart:
LCB – Brandon Carr, Marlon Humphrey, Robertson Daniel
RCB – Jimmy Smith, Sheldon Price, Al-Hajj Shabazz, Reggie Porter
SLOT – Maurice Canady, Brandon Boykin, Jaylen Hill
PHYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM LIST – Tavon Young
Why to be impressed: After years of pumping few resources into the cornerback position, general manager Ozzie Newsome signed a reliable nine-year NFL starter in Carr and selected Humphrey with the 16th overall pick of this year’s draft. Those two paired with Smith will give the Ravens their most impressive outside cornerback depth in a long time.
Why to be concerned: Young’s torn ACL suffered during organized team activities left Baltimore very thin at the slot corner position, prompting Newsome to sign the veteran Boykin to compete with Canady for the No. 3 corner spot. Turning 29 later this month, Smith is paid like a No. 1 corner and has shown the ability to play at that level, but he’s missed 13 games over the last three seasons.
2017 outlook: The Ravens are better equipped to survive in the secondary if Smith again battles injuries this year, but it’s difficult envisioning the group playing at or near an elite level if he can’t stay healthy. Carr is a stable option on the opposite side of Smith, but you’d like to see Humphrey ready to step into a starting role at some point this season after the Ravens invested such a high draft pick on him.
Prediction: With teams needing to respect the other side of the field more than in the past, Smith will pull in a career-high four interceptions in 2017.