Not many teams have a trio of first-round picks at the cornerback position. The Cincinnati Bengals regularly were one of them, since they consistently drafted the position in the first round. The Baltimore Ravens are now another since they acquired Marcus Peters via trade during the 2019 season.
A three-time Pro Bowler and All-Pro, Peters was a former first-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs before being traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. The Rams then traded him to the Ravens six games into the 2019 season, and he had an All-Pro year, intercepting five passes with three returned for touchdowns, leading the league in interception return yardage for the third time in his five seasons.
Said Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale about what makes him so good, “I think there’s two things. There’s instincts, and just ability itself. I’ve said this before, Marcus Peters is one of the smartest corners I’ve ever seen play the game. His film study, recognizing splits, but also individual guys as well. He’s just been a tremendous asset to our defense on the back end there”.
Peters was entering the final year of his rookie contract, or rather six games into it, when the Ravens acquired him, but the team worked out a long-term extension with him before the season was through, a three-year extension worth $42 million, or an average of $14 million per season, which ties him to the team through 2022.
But he’s not alone in that secondary. They also have Marlon Humphrey, an All-Pro in his own right, with three interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two touchdowns. They still have Jimmy Smith, another of their first-round talents, and with Tavon Young returning in the slot, there isn’t even a place for the former.
“The way we look at it right now is we have three starting corners”, Martindale said of the talent that the Ravens have accumulated at the cornerback position in recent years. “They’d be number one corners any place else, any team that they’re on”.
As good as Smith has been over the years, injuries have always held him back, missing seven games last year alone, but the Ravens know how valuable he is to have around as depth, especially with Brandon Carr now gone.
Can the duo of Peters and Humphrey continue the level of play that they set last season? It’s rare for a team to have two All-Pro cornerbacks in the same season, after all. The team is hoping that the defensive pass rush will be even better with the additions of Calais Campbell and others to help balance out the front seven and the secondary.