How did Ravens cornerbacks stack up to rest of NFL in 2020?


The Ravens qualified for the postseason for the third straight year and registered their first playoff victory in six years, but where did their individual players stack up across the NFL in such an unusual 2020 campaign?

Whether it’s discussing the Pro Bowl or handing out postseason honors, media and fans spend much time discussing where players rank at any given position, but very few watch every player on every team closely enough to develop opinions as informed as we’d like to believe.

Truthfully, how many times did you watch the Detroit Lions linebackers this season? What about the Las Vegas Raiders offensive line? And the Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks?

That’s why I respect the efforts of Pro Football Focus while admitting their grades are hardly the gospel of player assessment. The exhaustive effort to evaluate players across the league shouldn’t be dismissed when most of us watch one team or maybe one division closely on any kind of a regular basis.

We’ll look at each positional group on the Baltimore roster in the coming days, but below is a look at where Ravens cornerbacks stacked up across the NFL this past season followed by a positional outlook going into 2021:

Tight ends
Defensive linemen
Running backs
Inside linebackers
Offensive linemen

Marlon Humphrey
2020 defensive snap count: 974
PFF ranking: 12th out of 121 qualified cornerbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 25
Skinny: Despite a bout of COVID-19 and some nagging injuries, Humphrey led the NFL with eight forced fumbles and made his second straight Pro Bowl. Tavon Young’s season-ending knee injury forced the 2017 first-round pick from Alabama to again defend the slot where he reinforced his standing as the best player on the defense, which is why the Ravens rewarded him with a five-year, $97.5 million contract extension in October.

Marcus Peters
2020 defensive snap count: 913
PFF ranking: 39th out of 121 qualified cornerbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 28
Skinny: Peters didn’t quite play up to his 2019 All-Pro level, but he was still the only player in the NFL to tally at least four interceptions and four forced fumbles. In an era in which interceptions continue to diminish, the three-time Pro Bowl defensive back remains an elite ball hawk and leads the league with 31 picks since the start of the 2015 season.

Jimmy Smith
2020 defensive snap count: 455
PFF ranking: 23rd out of 121 qualified cornerbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 33
Skinny: Smith was on his way to his best campaign in a few years before injuries cost him at least a large portion of seven of the final eight regular-season games. He signed a one-year deal for 2021 late in the season, but it will be interesting to see if the Ravens revisit a transition to a hybrid safety role, a plan that was abandoned because of Young’s Week 2 injury.

Anthony Averett
2020 defensive snap count: 354
PFF ranking: 50th out of 121 qualified cornerbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 26
Skinny: The 2018 fourth-round pick from Alabama again flashed some starting-caliber ability, but he’s played no more than 11 games in each of his first three seasons because of injuries. Entering a pivotal contract year, Averett is currently fifth on the cornerback depth chart.

Tavon Young
2020 defensive snap count: 38
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 27
Skinny: Having played only 17 games over the last four seasons, Young accepted a $2.85 million pay cut for 2021 last fall after sustaining a torn ACL in Week 2. Even with that added financial flexibility, the talented slot corner is at a crossroads and needs to show he can stay on the field.

Davontae Harris
2020 defensive snap count: 63
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 26
Skinny: Cincinnati’s former fifth-round pick in 2018 appeared in four games for Baltimore after being waived by Denver, but he made enough of an impression to be re-signed to a one-year deal in early February. Harris is a depth piece to watch and should be a contributor on special teams.

Khalil Dorsey
2020 defensive snap count: 5
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 23
Skinny: Injuries at the position pressed Dorsey into limited duty and special-teams action before a shoulder injury landed him on injured reserve. The undrafted free agent from Northern Arizona will compete for a 53-man roster spot.

Pierre Desir
2020 defensive snap count: 5
PFF ranking: 107th out of 121 qualified cornerbacks
2021 Week 1 age: 31
Skinny: The veteran journeyman played in three December games after being cut by the New York Jets earlier in the season, but he doesn’t appear to have a future in Baltimore at this point.

Iman Marshall
2020 defensive snap count: 0
PFF ranking: n/a
2021 Week 1 age: 24
Skinny: A season-ending knee injury sustained in August cost the 2019 fourth-round pick from USC crucial development time that leaves his future unclear. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Marshall has appeared in only three games in two seasons and will need a good summer to make the roster.

2021 positional outlook
Humphrey and Peters are easily one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL, but the injury history of Smith, Young, and Averett probably makes Baltimore’s depth look better on paper than it is in reality. That point was reinforced in the second half of 2020 when a slew of injuries forced veterans such as Tramon Williams and Anthony Levine into duty. Cornerback certainly isn’t a need compared to several other spots on either side of the ball, but the value of the position and the post-2021 status of several players shouldn’t make it a surprise if general manager Eric DeCosta adds a young cornerback at some point in next month’s draft.