You have, of course, read by now of the Baltimore Ravens’ recent injury woes, which started with second-year cornerback Tavon Young suffering a torn ACL. He logged some starting time on defense already during his rookie season, and he was expected to become the full-time slot cornerback this year, a role in which I believe he could truly blossom.
But such a plan will have to wait another year, as it is rather unlikely that he is going to be able to play during the 2017 season. So that means that the team is going to have to figure out another plan. Brandon Carr will of course start on one side, and Jimmy Smith is practicing after suffering a season-ending injury.
One possible solution would be to utilize one of their newest resources. They used their first-round draft pick on Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey. While he is somewhat raw, and did not play in the slot during his college career, the Ravens view this as an option.
Fortunately for them, given the context, Young’s injury happened early enough that they will have much of OTAs and all of training camp and the preseason to evaluate Humphrey’s ability to play in the slot. He did it during practices, at the very least, while in college, but making the jump not only from college to the pros but also from the outside to the slot may be too much to ask for a cornerback who is far from a finished product.
Another potential option would be to play former cornerback Lardarius Webb in that role. He was a starting outside cornerback for many years before they moved him to safety for the 2016 season. He was since released, re-signed, and replaced in the starting lineup, but he is still a capable player and that would seem to be a suitable role for him.
The Ravens still have former Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington on the roster, as well. He was placed on injured reserve before the season even began last year, so this is a resource that they did not even have at their disposal a year ago. They had Jerraud Powers logging the bulk of the slot duties in 2016. But he hasn’t been practicing.
Young is not the only cornerback that Baltimore drafted last year, however. There is also Maurice Canady, taken in the sixth round, who did dress for four games last season and made two tackles—which I am assuming came on special teams.
The Virginia product is 6’1”, but under 200 pounds. He is the player who replaced Young in the slot during practices after his injury initially, so they obviously view him as an option.
As I wrote earlier, however, they will have time now between the final week of OTAs and the start of the regular season to experiment with a variety of looks to figure out which options work best for them. They may not have Young, but they should be grateful to have alternatives. It may even accelerate their rookie first-rounder’s development as a result.