With the 16th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens selected cornerback Marlon Humphrey. Newsome has a reputation for loving members of the Crimson Tide, and Humphrey became the fourth Alabama player drafted in the Newsome era, and this pick was followed up with the selection of pass rusher Tim Williams in the third round.
Cornerback was not the most glaring need for the Baltimore Ravens, but they need versatility in their secondary as coordinator Dean Pees likes to change his coverage style on a week to week basis, and outside of Tre’Davious White, Humphrey was probably the most versatile corner in the draft.
The Ravens secondary on the whole was better than the sum of it’s parts in 2016, but you can never have too many bodies in the secondary, and Humphrey will be the day one starter across from the underrated Jimmy Smith. Tavon Young impressed last year, but he looks like more of a full time slot corner. Humphrey will solidify the Ravens secondary, but it will also allow one of their better young players to play in a role that suits him.
Baltimore’s defence was excellent in 2016, but the guys over at Football Outsiders had the Ravens slightly worse against the pass (10th), than they were against the run (5). Baltimore’s defence has always been better than the sum of its parts, but at times, they were prone to giving up big plays to wide receivers.
Baltimore’s defence was hit by three departures this summer, as Zachary Orr retired, Elvis Dumervil was released, and Timmy Jernigan was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles on the eve of his contract year. In some ways, Baltimore invested in their secondary in order to try and minimise losses in the front seven, and this may turn out to be an effective strategy.
Humphrey is a very physical player, and he will add some much needed toughness to the Ravens secondary. Humphrey’s most impressive Alabama performance came against the Washington Huskies, as you can see in the video below.
YouTube: WR Vs DB John Ross Vs Marlon Humphrey 2016
Ross is an excellent receiver with great speed, but Humphrey played him out of the game by staying physical in coverage, and not allowing him to get the first step. The Ravens are in a division with some tough wideouts, and having physical corners is something that is required in the AFC North.
Humphrey however is not the perfect prospect, and he was worrying against the deep ball in College. Most film experts have documented that he doesn’t turn his head quickly enough, and this is something that could be exposed in a division with Martavis Bryant, Corey Coleman and AJ Green. The Ravens have a good coaching staff in place, but I am not sure that issues like that can be fixed at the next level.
Humphrey did not give up many receptions in college, but when he did, they were usually huge ones. According to PFF, Humphrey gave up 17.4 yards per catch in 2015, and 16.3 yards per catch in 2016. His technique is an issue, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get beaten a few times next year, even if he does play well for the most part.
His ball skills are almost non existent, and this could become a problem at the next level. If he manages to improve these ball skills, he could become a top ten corner at the next level, but history suggests that he probably won’t be able to fix these issues at the next level. Even if he does not fix these problems, the Ravens still have a flexible press corner who has the physicality to match up against big receivers.
Baltimore have Joe Flacco on a monster deal that he simply doesn’t justify, but regardless of my opinions on Flacco, the fact is, the Baltimore Ravens are in win now mode, which makes the selection of Marlon Humphrey even more baffling. He could be a good player, but to justify his first round selection, he needs a lot of work. I feel the same way about this pick, as I did about the Artie Burns selection by Pittsburgh last year, both might become good players in this league, but win-now teams taking project players, doesn’t make much sense.