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Late for Work: Marlon Humphrey Named Ravens' Most Underrated Player By Sports Illustrated

CB Marlon Humphrey
CB Marlon Humphrey

Marlon Humphrey Named Ravens' Most Underrated Player By Sports Illustrated

You may remember there was an article in Bleacher Report six weeks ago that deemed Marlon Humphrey the most overrated defensive back in the NFL.

Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr begs to differ. He named the three-time Pro Bowl cornerback the Ravens' most underrated player.

"Humphrey got a plug on NFL Network's list of the top 100 players before last year, which was great. I think he deserves it again for his game against the San Francisco 49ers alone," Orr wrote. "He allowed just one completion and five yards after the catch in that game. He muscled up and played physically against the NFL's biggest bully-ball team and he was involved in the Ravens' pass-rushing package. I don't think we talk enough about Humphrey's ability to be a tone setter and uniquely fit Baltimore's defense.

"I greatly respect Pro Football Focus's rankings, which have never featured Humphrey as a top-10 overall cornerback (he was close, coming in 12th one year). And, I don't think they are necessarily wrong when we're talking about the cornerback position globally and traditionally. But I don't know many more players who were as essential to the Ravens' being the Ravens last year as Humphrey. The 2017 first-round pick out of Alabama has always been on the radar. I'm not telling you about a 'hidden gem' per se. I am asking you to ask yourself: What would the Ravens be without him?"

Injuries limited Humphrey to 10 games last season, but he still only allowed one touchdown and 19 completions, and he posted the second-lowest completion percentage of his career (50.0), per PFF.

Ravens' Secondary Cracks Top Five in PFF Rankings

Speaking of Humphrey, he is a reason the Ravens are No. 4 in PFF’s secondary rankings.

"A unit that relies on the strength of its safeties also rosters Marlon Humphrey, one of the most talented cornerbacks in the NFL. Humphrey has battled injuries the past few years but is dominant when he is on the field," John Kosko wrote. "Kyle Hamilton has also emerged as one of the best safeties in the NFL, while Marcus Williams has been one of the league's best deep free safeties for several years. The team also added Nate Wiggins in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft."

Kosko didn't even mention cornerback Brandon Stephens, who had a breakout season in 2023. The versatile 2021 third-round pick can play outside, in the slot, and also line up at safety.

PFF's rankings are a much more accurate assessment of the Ravens' secondary than that of NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, who ranked the unit last in the AFC North, as noted in Late for Work last week.

Derrick Henry Predicted to Have Second-Best Season of His Career

Derrick Henry is entering his age 30 season, but The Ringer's Nora Princiotti doesn't expect any dropoff in his production. In fact, she predicted the four-time Pro Bowl running back will have the second-best season of his career.

Specifically, Princiotti believes Henry will top the 1,540 rushing yards he had in 2019. He ran for a career-high 2,027 yards the following season.

"If part of the Ravens' new offensive strategy involves reducing the number of hits that Lamar Jackson is going to take, I think you put Derrick Henry in there and there's an idea of, 'OK, we can do some volume this way,'" Princiotti said on “The Ringer NFL Show” podcast. "We can reap the benefits of that really physical style of rushing game, but we can have someone else doing it, we can protect the quarterback, we can let Lamar continue to do what he has done, even as a runner, which is doing more running to pass than running just to run."

Steven Ruiz also thinks Henry is in store for a big year.

"One thing he does bring even at this point of his career is explosive runs," Ruiz said. "I think they are shifting the focus of the run game from being Lamar-centric to being running back-centric. … I think Lamar's rushing attempts aren't going to budge too much, but I think you're going to see more scrambles rather than designed runs. And those designed runs are going to go to Derrick Henry, who still at this age was running like 20 mph in Week 18 last season."

On a related note, Orr predicted Henry will score at least 14 rushing touchdowns, which would be the third-best mark of his career.

"Enjoy the ultimate frustration of having Lamar Jackson on your fantasy team: rushing touchdowns being sniped at the goal line by design," Orr wrote. "Jackson won't have to put his body at risk in crunch situations anymore, thanks to Baltimore's inking of the massive running back."

Jeff Zrebiec Expects Ravens to Sign Veterans at Positions of Need in Coming Weeks

General Manager Eric DeCosta has a history of signing veterans late in the offseason, and The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec expects the trend to continue this year.

"The Ravens love the late offseason signings where they bring in known and motivated veterans on the cheap to augment positions of perceived need," Zrebiec wrote. "Last year, they added cornerback Arthur Maulet on the eve of training camp, outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and cornerback Ronald Darby in mid-August, and outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy in September. Those four had strong years and were instrumental in Baltimore having one of the top defenses in the league."

Zrebiec said a veteran safety and interior offensive linemen are likely at the top of DeCosta's list.

"It would be surprising if one of those areas is not addressed in the coming weeks," Zrebiec wrote.

Quick Hits

  •’s Chad Reuter conducted a seven-round mock draft of active players. Jackson went fourth overall to the Arizona Cardinals. The Ravens took Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase at No. 30.

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