The Ravens head to the annual NFL Scouting Combine this week to get a look at the incoming crop of prospects who could help fill some holes on the roster.
Getting some help on the back end of the defense is a priority for the Ravens, and here is an overall review of the secondary:
What The Ravens Have
Two Starting Corners
Cornerback is one of the most important positions on defense, and the good news for the Ravens is that they have their top two starters under contract. Lardarius Webb is in the prime of his career and Jimmy Smith emerged last year in his first full season as a starter. Webb and Smith have the potential to be one of the league's best pairings at cornerback as long as they stay healthy and keep improving.
Pair of Young Corners
The other cornerbacks signed through next season are Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson, and they are both young defensive backs hoping to get more opportunities to play. Brown has experience from the last two seasons when he filled in after injuries, and he wound up as the team's No. 3 cornerback. Jackson has mostly been a special teamer in his first two NFL seasons.
What The Ravens Are Looking For
Athletic Free Safety
One of the needs that General Manager Ozzie Newsome highlighted after the season was adding an athletic free safety. The Ravens had to adjust to life without Ed Reed last season, and they did not have a natural fit for the free safety position to defend the middle of the field. Rookie first-round pick Matt Elam played free safety last year, but he is more of a fit at strong safety and the Ravens would like to move him there. Bringing in another safety through free agency or the draft would give the Ravens the pairing they want on the back end of the defense.
The Ravens are set at the top of the depth chart, but they need some additional competition to round out the secondary. Adding competition during training camp for the final safety and cornerback positions is expected.
Will Corey Graham Return?
The veteran defensive back has proven during his two years in Baltimore that he is a capable starting cornerback, and much more than a special teams ace. Graham raised his profile during his time with the Ravens, and he could now get a larger deal on the open market. Good cornerbacks are tough to find in the NFL, and a team in need of a starter could give him a bigger deal with the chance to be one of their top two corners.
What Happens with James Ihedigbo?
Like Graham, Ihedigbo has also thrived during his time with the Ravens and played his way into a starting role. Ihedigbo is a hard-hitting strong safety that could start for many teams across the league, which could make it tough for the Ravens to keep him. The Ravens want Elam to move to strong safety, and Ihedigbo would likely command more money than a backup.