If you’re a Ravens fan, you may not agree with Pro Football Focus’ ranking of its top 101 players for the 2018 season.
Only two Ravens made the list – cornerback Marlon Humphrey and right guard Marshal Yanda. And they barely made it. Keep scrolling until you reach Humphrey ranked No. 97 and Yanda ranked No. 99.
Humphrey and Yanda deserve kudos for excellent seasons. But should they have earned higher rankings? And should more Ravens be on the list?
Consider the Ravens won the AFC North and finished 10-6. They had the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense. How can the Ravens’ defense have just one player in the top 101?
For example, why is inside linebacker C.J. Mosley missing from this list? Mosley led the Ravens in tackles and made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in five seasons.
Compare it to the Chicago Bears, who had seven defensive players in the top 101 – linebacker Khalil Mack (No. 10), defensive end Akiem Hicks (11th), safety Eddie Jackson (14th), cornerback Kyle Fuller (66th), slot cornerback Bryce Callahan (81st), nose tackle Eddie Goldman (88th) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (No. 100).
Collectively, the Ravens’ defense may have been snubbed by PFF. But Humphrey’s ranking solidifies his emergence as one of the team’s best players – a young cornerback with the physical tools to match up with any wide receiver.
Humphrey absorbed advice last season in a positive way, whether it came from coaches or veteran teammates like safety Eric Weddle or linebacker Terrell Suggs. Weddle was not shy about pushing Humphrey, who credited Weddle for offering guidance on the best way to study film. Humphrey was better prepared to anticipate plays, allowing him to cover more aggressively.
Humphrey was voted team MVP by the Baltimore media, and he was the youngest cornerback on PFF’s top 101 list.
“I thought this year went well for me, my second year,” Humphrey said following the season. “I thought I improved on some things, but still every year, you have to grow. I’m just looking forward to growing and polishing up a lot of things, and hopefully come back next year a little better.”
Humphrey has lived up to expectations as the 16th pick in 2017 draft that was loaded with talent. A dozen players from the 2017 draft were on PFF’s top 101 list.
Humphrey has perhaps surpassed some of his peers. He was the only cornerback from his class to make this year’s PFF 101 list. Last year, the Saints’ Marshawn Lattimore and Bills’ Tre’Davious White both made it while Humphrey did not.
The next step for Humphrey is taking his game to another level, becoming an All-Pro or Pro Bowl player. Baltimore has an impressive collection of talent under 25 years old, a group that includes quarterback Lamar Jackson, running back Gus Edwards, tight end Mark Andrews, right tackle Orlando Brown Jr., left tackle Ronnie Stanley, and cornerback Tavon Young. Mosley is only 26 years old, and the Ravens hope to re-sign him before he potentially leaves them in March during free agency.
The Ravens are likely to lose some experience from their No. 1 defense. The franchise’s all-time leader in sacks, Terrell Suggs, is a free agent at age 36. It remains uncertain if Weddle will be back next season. Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith could also be a salary cap casualty.
As one of the team’s emerging defensive stars, Humphrey could be asked to take more of a leadership role as early as next season. But after two seasons, Humphrey has quickly earned a reputation as one of the league’s top corners by any measure.