New Number, New Goals for Emerging Star Marlon Humphrey

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During OTAs Thursday, Robert Griffin III tried to complete a long pass against Marlon Humphrey. That wasn’t going to happen. Humphrey made a leaping interception, the kind of play that has made him one of the NFL’s top cornerbacks.

Pro Football Focus recently tweeted that Humphrey was the most difficult cornerback to complete a pass against in the fourth quarter last season.

In just two NFL seasons, Humphrey has become everything the Ravens expected and more since being a first-round pick (16th overall) in 2017. But at age 22, Humphrey is just getting started and has lofty goals for the upcoming season.

“Anything that ends with a ‘Bowl,’ whether that’s Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, any of those things are always big goals,” Humphrey said. “Just making big plays; big plays lead to Pro Bowls, Pro Bowl players lead to playoff teams and then playoff teams can have a chance to win the Super Bowl. So, whatever way you can help your team win. I think the best way to help your team win is to try to play your best ball that you can play.”

Humphrey isn’t the only reason the Ravens love their secondary. The cornerback group led by Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith, and Tavon Young could be the NFL’s deepest. To replace Eric Weddle, the Ravens signed six-time Pro Bowler Earl Thomas during free agency, a proven ballhawk at safety who should improve the Ravens’ chances to create takeaways.

Humphrey’s presence at voluntary workouts is further evidence that the praise coming his way isn’t making him complacent. Meanwhile, Humphrey also took care of business off the field during this spring, earning his degree from the University of Alabama and walking across the stage during commencement exercises.

“It was very important,” Humphrey said. “I definitely didn’t think that would be something I would do so close to going into the league from when I left [college], but it definitely felt really good to walk across the stage and hug my mom, who is a trustee at Alabama. Something I started and finished. Now it’s back to football.”

Humphrey showed off his new No. 44 Ravens jersey during OTAs, his new number after switching from the No. 29 he wore during first two seasons in Baltimore. Changing numbers was a nice gesture by Humphrey in deference to Thomas, who asked to continue wearing the No. 29 he donned during his nine-year career with the Seattle Seahawks. Humphrey decided to let Thomas have No. 29 and chose No .44 because it’s the number that Humphrey’s father, Bobby Humphrey, wore both in high school and during his last NFL season with the Denver Broncos.

Humphrey looks just as agile wearing No. 44, but admits the new look is an adjustment.

“The 44 feels good,” Humphrey said. “I had to find myself on film a few times already, but it feels good.”

The Ravens don’t have a weak link in the secondary, so opposing quarterbacks will have to challenge all of them from time to time. Humphrey has done a lot of self-study this offseason, trying to make it even harder for quarterbacks and wide receivers to anticipate his tendencies when throwing his way.

“I made a few more plays than I did my rookie year, so I think that teams will study me, and Jimmy and Carr and whoever else is out there, a little more as to our weaknesses and strengths, and try to go against our strengths and pick at our weaknesses,” Humphrey said. “So, anytime you make a few more plays than the year previous, I think teams start to game-plan more and more. Offensive coordinators are really smart, so they always have something up their sleeve for you.”

However, Humphrey is focused on taking his game to another level, and that includes stepping into more of a leadership role if necessary. The departure of defensive leaders like Weddle, Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley has left the door open for new leaders to emerge. If that means Humphrey must help fill the void, he is ready. Both on the field and off, Humphrey sounds ready for whatever comes his way.

“You guys see a lot of new faces, and I see a lot of new opportunities,” Humphrey said. “A lot of guys, especially in my draft class and the class last year, are stepping into bigger roles, including myself. So, I look forward to that as an opportunity for new guys to make plays and make names for themselves, to become those household names that guys like C.J. Mosley and Weddle and those guys who have left. I’m just excited to see guys emerge.”

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