The Baltimore Ravens selected Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey with the No. 16 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft on April 27 in Philadelphia.

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2017, file photo, Alabama defensive back Marlon Humphrey (Vasha Hunt/ via AP)

The selection added depth to a Ravens secondary that has already welcomed some much-needed reinforcements via free agency this offseason.  

Baltimore had already signed former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr, a solid, durable starter who rarely misses games, as well as former Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson, one of the most coveted defensive backs in free agency this spring. Jefferson and Carr joined a secondary which already included quality starters such as Jimmy Smith, Eric Weddle and second-year corner Tavon Young. The Ravens were expected to be much improved in defending the pass next season—drafting Humphrey was simply the rich getting richer. 

“This is the strongest we’ve been in the secondary in a long time,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh during a press conference after the team drafted Humphrey.  

Most draft experts didn’t predict the Ravens would take a cornerback with their first pick. The majority of mock drafts had Baltimore selecting a wide receiver or pass-rusher with the 16th overall pick, perhaps the two greatest positions of need for the team. But Ravens general manger Ozzie Newsome’s draft strategy has always been to take the best player available, rather than reach for prospects based on needs. All three of the top receiver prospects were taken in the first 10 picks of the draft, as were the top three defensive-ends/pass-rushers. Only one cornerback was drafted before Humphrey last night. 

At 6-foot-1-inch and 200 pounds, Humphrey is a big cornerback who plays with a very physical, aggressive attitude in coverage. He’s an outstanding tackler who does extremely well in run support. Some pundits believe he compares to Jimmy Smith, who the Ravens drafted in the first round back in 2011. Smith has been the Ravens best corner for the last five years, and was projected to be among the best in the league, but injuries have plagued his career and caused him to miss several games each season.  If Humphrey turns out to be as good Smith, minus the injuries, the Ravens could have a new Pro Bowler on their hands. 

“They want to get back to playing Ravens football on defense,” Football Insider Charles Davis said. “Marlon Humphrey gives them that opportunity, especially in their division where you have to chase around star receivers like A.J. Green, now John Ross and of course Antonio Brown.”

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor