Baltimore Ravens Secondary: Grading each player


Nov 9, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens safety Will Hill (33) reacts after knocking down a pass against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens won 21-7. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

For all the press about how terrible the Baltimore Ravens secondary has been this season, they deserve at least a little credit for overcoming overwhelming odds. Seemingly every week a new injury forces personnel changes, yet the unit has come out plugging each week.

Some guys have played most of the season. Others are brand spanking new. Still others have come and gone. Let’s take a look at how each and every one of those guys has done this year.

To grade each defensive back, we’ll be looking at their on-field production first and foremost, with consideration for each player’s unique circumstances. For instance, players playing out of position or dealing with injuries will be graded more leniently.

Jimmy Smith – A

The biggest bright spot in the Baltimore Ravens secondary this year was undoubtedly Jimmy Smith. Smith grew into a lockdown corner capable of covering any receiver in the league, including Antonio Brown, who he held in check in the Ravens’ Week 2 26-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He wasn’t flashy, but Smith was seemingly always in position to either force an incompletion or make a quick tackle. His injury was a huge blow.

Lardarius Webb – C

Honestly. Lardarius Webb’s grade would be significantly lower if he weren’t dealing with injuries. Webb has looked like a shell of his former self this year, looking slow and stiff in coverage. Opposing receivers have been able to torch him on deep balls while taking advantage of the Ravens’ off coverage on shorter routes. Webb is still one of the better run defending corners in the league thanks to his tremendous motor, which keeps his grade from being too low.

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Asa JacksonC-

The Ravens didn’t add a corner this offseason under the assumption Chykie Brown or Asa Jackson would step up. Brown never really had a chance, but Jackson still does. Though Jackson has struggled with injuries and consistency this season, he has also flashed some upside in man coverage. He has natural cover skills despite his inexperience, and there still looks to be potential here. Right now, though, it’s only potential. The production just isn’t there yet.

Dominique FranksF

Dominique Franks had no business being a starting cornerback, especially against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ talented group of receivers. That’s the role he was thrust into, though, and he failed miserably. Franks seemed to lack chemistry with the rest of the secondary, seeming to often fall victim to communication issues. Even more troubling, Franks looked completely lost with the ball in the air. Cutting him proved to be a good move.

Danny GorrerC+

As good as Danny Gorrer has been at times, I can’t get the image of Malcom Floyd toasting Gorrer for 59-yards on a third-and-10. Gorrer did a lot of good things this year, usually being in the right position and tackling consistently. He was simply asked to do too much, which is why he was occasionally beaten so badly. All in all, Gorrer is a quality player who could be a nice nickel or dime back for the Ravens should he be re-signed. For now, the Ravens will miss him after he went down with a knee injury.

Chykie Brown – F

What can be said about Chykie Brown that hasn’t already been said? The guy looks absolutely lost on the field, displaying no positive traits other than athleticism. He is a quality special teamer, but he has no business being on an NFL defense.

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Anthony Levine – C

Fans will probably say this grade is too high after Anthony Levine gave up the decisive pass interference penalty against the San Diego Chargers. That said, Levine has done a lot of good things in his short stint as the Ravens’ starting corner. He is a sound tackler, is quick to react to the ball and does a good job of keeping plays in front of him. His failure late against the Chargers hurts and forces questions about his ability on jump balls, which is why Levine’s grade is firmly average.

Darian Stewart – D

In an early season scouting report, I said Darian Stewart has a conservative style designed to keep plays in front of him, which masks his deficiencies in range and ball skills. Those deficiencies are still there, but Stewart has not kept plays in front of him this year. He has repeatedly taken terrible angles in both the ground game and in pass defense, he has repeatedly shown his lack of range and he has gotten beat deep on a regular basis. The Ravens have seemingly grown weary of Stewart’s struggles, as he has played just 20 reps in the past two games.

Matt ElamF

There is nothing good that can be said about Matt Elam’s season. A season that was supposed to be a breakout season turned into a complete nightmare, as Elam completely lost the ability to tackle and defend the deep pass. A starting NFL safety needs to be able to play deep zone, and Elam seems completely unable to do that. His ability to be a mediocre nickel corner is the only saving grace of Elam’s horrible year.

Will HillB+

The only Ravens safety to play well this year has been Will Hill, who has made some impact plays and rarely makes mistakes. He is a sound tackler, a rangy zone defender and a competent man coverman as well. Hill has definitely earned himself an extension in Baltimore, though his off-the-field issues could limit his price tag.

Terrence BrooksC+

Expectations for Terrence Brooks to immediately start at safety were always a little unrealistic. Though the Ravens have soured on him of late due to some rookie mistakes, Brooks has shown a lot of potential in limited participation. His speed and instincts are excellent, and he is a better tackler than his small frame would suggest. Consistency is the big issue, especially with the ball in the air. Just 23 years old, Brooks has plenty of time to improve.

Jeromy MilesB-

Jeromy Miles has been largely invisible this year in his 200-plus defensive reps. In this secondary, that’s a good thing, as it means Miles isn’t getting beat on a regular basis. Miles has played a ton the past two weeks and has held his own, proving to be a good complement to Hill’s more rangy game.

Brynden TrawickC+

You’re excused if you didn’t realize Brynden Trawick has played on defense this year. He does play a fair amount in the Ravens’ goal-line packages, and he does pretty well in that role. Trawick showed some natural ball skills in the preseason, though we haven’t seen any of that this year. When playing in the base defense, Trawick hasn’t stood out for better or for worse.