10 Questions: How Will Ravens Utilize Their Secondary Depth?

S Chuck Clark

We've hit the slow time of the NFL calendar, the time when there's a whole lot more debate than news.

Thus, over the rest of this week, we will debate some of the most pressing issues facing the Ravens as they enter the 2022 season.

How will the Ravens utilize their secondary depth?

In his first year as defensive coordinator, Mike Macdonald has an abundance of talent to work with.

Pro Football Focus believes the Ravens have assembled the NFL's best secondary, led by elite corners Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters and three starting-caliber safeties in Marcus Williams, Chuck Clark and Kyle Hamilton.

How does Macdonald plan to utilize the secondary depth? He hopes the Ravens' ability to morph into different coverages from one play to the next forces quarterbacks into mistakes.

"Potentially, it could be a huge advantage," Macdonald said. "The more we keep offenses guessing and the more that we're putting our best guys out there that can go play fast … this is the time of year to try those things out. As we get closer to kickoff, then we'll start narrowing it down, so we can go play."

No team can match the Ravens' depth at safety with Williams and Hamilton joining Clark, Tony Jefferson and Geno Stone. The cornerback rotation behind Humphrey and Peters is also deep, a group that includes veteran Kyle Fuller, corner/safety Brandon Stephens and rookies Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion "Pepe" Williams.

Whether the Ravens play two safeties, three safeties, nickel coverage, dime coverage, or any hybrid look that Macdonald schemes up, the idea is to cover well and force more takeaways.

With Peters missing all of last season, the Ravens tied for 29th in the NFL with just 15 takeaways. That number should increase in 2022 if the secondary stays relatively healthy. Williams and Fuller have combined for 35 career interceptions, and no cornerback has more interceptions than Peters (31) since he entered the league in 2015.

While injuries to Peters, Humphrey and many others played a major part in Baltimore's defensive issues in 2021, Humphrey acknowledged the secondary did not play up to the standard he expects. Humphrey was excited with what he saw during mandatory minicamp.

"I think we definitely had some letdowns last year in the secondary," Humphrey said. "So we're kind of revamping, getting some guys back healthy, adding a couple pieces. I'm really excited about the guys we (took) in the draft and the guys we picked up in free agency."

Meanwhile, Hamilton is a rare safety who has the size and speed to match up with wide receivers, tight ends or running backs. He can line up in centerfield, in the slot, or in the box. Williams' range at safety should make Baltimore less susceptible to giving up big plays, allowing others to play more aggressively underneath.

Clark is one of the NFL's most cerebral safeties, able to diagnose plays quickly and rely valuable information to teammates. Clark has been trusted to wear the green dot communication helmet, and he's one of the players most respected in the locker room.

Macdonald used some three-safety packages at Michigan and the Ravens definitely have the personnel for it. Performance, injuries, and matchups will all help determine who plays and how much. But regardless of who's on the field, Macdonald wants the Ravens' secondary to be cohesive and opportunistic – a unit that avoids mistakes and forces opponents to make them.

"Just try to keep putting your players in the best position so they can succeed," Macdonald said. "If you let that kind of guide your decision process, you end up at a pretty decent spot."

Related Content