Dec 14, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens safety Terrence Brooks (31) is assisted off the field after suffering an apparent injury on the opening kickoff against the Jacksonville Jaguars at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
A big hole at safety got bigger with the news that Terrence Brooks would not be ready at the start of the season. Though Brooks caught some criticism for a handful of rookie mistakes, he was among the Ravens’ better coverage safeties last year, and his big hit on Delanie Walker was the turning point in a win against the Tennessee Titans.
Brooks had a chance to start this season with a good offseason, though his torn PCL and MCL guaranteed that most of his time would be spent rehabbing, rather than practicing.
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With pretty good ball skills and incredible athleticism, Brooks has potential to be a tremendous deep safety when the Ravens play deep zone. That same athleticism also helps Brooks perform better than the average safety in man coverage.
Like pretty much every safety on the Ravens, Brooks needs to learn how to tackle, rather than just hit. And most of his rookie mistakes came because he just wasn’t aggressive enough going for the ball in the air. Those are skills that can be learned, but they are hard to count on learning.
Those skills will be a lot harder to learn if he can’t practice.
What does that mean for the Ravens at safety? That’s a good question. There seems to be some debate regarding how big of a need safety really is for the Ravens, how early they should draft one or how much they should spend on the position in free agency.
Let’s start with the obvious: Will Hill should be coming back. The Ravens can put a second-round designation on him and basically be guaranteed of that fact. So really, the Ravens are only looking to fill one safety spot. And they can re-sign Jeromy Miles and Darian Stewart for peanuts and get one of their starters from last year back as well. That’s not ideal, but it’s an option.
In free agency, there are options. Again, not ideal ones, but there are options. Dawan Landry, though a UFA, is available and could represent a minor upgrade. Whether that’s worth giving up a compensatory pick though is questionable.
The best answer to that for now is to wait and see. Maybe some safeties will get released, and the Ravens will be able to make a move. Jeromy Miles is expected to come back, so the Ravens will at least have a quality depth guy there at the beginning of the season.
Safety is a bigger need now that Brooks’ status is known. Maybe it is even the biggest need. But the talent in the draft and free agency just hasn’t aligned for the Ravens to fill it. So they can’t afford to force it. Just hope Brooks comes back strong, and the Ravens figure something out a stopgap in the meantime.