The Ravens have a strong belief that you can never have too many corners.
"We love corners; our defense is really built to succeed with a great, strong secondary," General Manager Eric DeCosta said.
With Marcus Peters still a free agent, Baltimore currently has an opening opposite Marlon Humphrey – the last first-round cornerback the team drafted. The Ravens have a history of making strong first-round picks at the position and could do so again.
As for the type of cornerback he could be eyeing, DeCosta said "[Head Coach John] Harbaugh loves big, physical, press-type guys. There are a lot of these types of guys in the draft."
Who fits that mold and who are some other guys that could make sense for the Ravens?
Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
- Four-star recruit out of The Colony, Texas, where he played DB and WR before attending the University of Colorado.
- Was also a gifted track and field athlete in high school and had a personal best of 21.6 seconds in the 200-meters in the Texas State Championships.
- Transferred to Oregon before the 2022 season and compiled 50 tackles (35 solo) and four interceptions for the Ducks.
- Measured 6'1, 197 pounds, ran a 4.38 40-yard dash, 1.54 10-yard split and jumped a 41.5" vertical and 11"1' broad jump, good for a 9.95 Relative Athletic Score (RAS).
- In 2022, allowed a 60.9% completion percentage with three TDs allowed, while playing 501 snaps outside and 139 in the slot (per PFF).
- Gonzalez is built like a prototypical cornerback and has the athleticism and explosiveness to match. He has high-end long speed and his 4.38 40-yard dash shows on film.
- He is an extremely fluid mover and his feet and mind work together when he reacts to a route.
- He was asked to play in isolated press situations often, and while he can develop his physicality at the LOS, he had no issues with the athletic and route recognition requirements.
- Skillset on film projects to any scheme at the next level.
- He showed below average ball skills, and while he would often put himself in a position to make a play on the ball, he didn't always finish the play.
- Would like to see more physicality in the run game and when taking on lead blocks on screen plays.
The best piece of Gonzalez as a prospect is that he will be able to play in any scheme you need, and that includes all of the diverse things that a defensive coordinator like Mike MacDonald would ask of his corners. He will need to develop his ball skills, but opposite Humphrey, he would bring another CB that can play isolated in press or play zone with an emphasis on keeping the ball in front of the defense.
Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
- Zero-star recruit, with only 2 years of high school football experience, out of Pine Forest High School in Pensacola, Fla.
- In high school, was a standout high jumper and part of multiple championship relay teams. Also played basketball as a senior, and led all three teams to district titles, winning 2018 Pensacola News Journal Male Athlete of the Year in the process.
- As an inexperienced, 0-star recruit, he became a standout on special teams as a freshman, before earning a bigger role for the Fighting Illini.
- One of the most productive CBs in college football, with a 34.9% completion percentage, zero TD allowed and 18 forced incompletions, while playing the 2nd-most snaps in man coverage (per PFF).
- In 2022, played 616 snaps outside and 107 snaps in the slot (per PFF).
- Measured 5'11, 181 pounds with 31 ¼" arms, but did not do athletic testing in the pre-draft process.
- Witherspoon's best trait is his route recognition and anticipation, which make him a natural fit in a zone coverage scheme.
- He's an extremely instinctual player and made a number of plays on the ball. Whether it was playing a breaking route or through the catch point on a deep throw, Witherspoon was keyed in on the ball.
- A physical cornerback, Witherspoon had a lot of success against double moves or deep breaking routes by getting hands on the receiver and disrupting the route.
- A heat seeking missile in run support and when the ball is thrown underneath his coverage, Witherspoon is a ready and willing tackler.
- Sometimes too physical and "handsy" at the top of a WR's stem, as Witherspoon had 11 penalties across 2021 and 2022.
- Despite his testing numbers, Witherspoon had a tendency to get beat on deep routes and not be able to recover with his long speed.
Witherspoon is going to excel in the NFL in a zone scheme that allows him to erase entire areas and use his instinctual ball-hawking with his route recognition. He's an extremely physical CB that may have some penalty issues early in his career, but he could provide MacDonald with some interesting matchup opportunities with how he compliments Humphrey's physical press man skillset.
DJ Reed Jr. (but more size)
Joey Porter Jr., Penn State
- Three-star recruit out of North Allegheny High School in Pennsylvania, where he was captain as a senior and led his team to a Quad County Conference Class 6A title.
- Son of former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter.
- In 2022, had 24 tackles, 11 pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Allowed 50% completion percentage and forced 12 incompletions (per PFF).
- Aligned wide on 365 snaps, in the slot on five snaps, while playing 61 snaps in the box or at the line of scrimmage (per PFF).
- Measured 6'2, 193 pounds, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash with a 1.52 10-yard split. Jumped 35" in the vertical jump and 10"9' in the broad, recording a 9.72 Relative Athletic Score.
- Porter Jr. is a prototypically built press man CB with long arms and wide shoulders. He plays with physicality at the LOS and has good long speed to recover off his press.
- Uses his length extremely well and has a knack for getting his hand on the ball and getting physical at the catch point with WRs.
- When he was trailing out of press situations, he did a great job of getting his head back around to the ball to make plays, especially in the red zone.
- Very physical in run support and a willing and able tackler.
- In press situations where he had slow hands or missed his initial contact point, he struggled to adjust and transition against quick routes (i.e. slants).
- Can get almost too physical at the stem of the route, which led to a few penalties.
Ravens fans love the story here with it being former rival Joey Porter's son, but the reality is that he fits the Ravens archetype in a CB. He's physical, big, long and strong and he has a "Play like a Raven" mentality. This could be a situation where they can use press man coverage across from Humphrey and let their CBs be physical on the outside.
Deonte Banks, Maryland
- Three-star recruit out of Edgewood High School in Edgewood, Md., where he also competed in the 100m, 200m, 4x100 and long jump in track and field.
- Earned a starting role as a freshman and went on to start the rest of his UMD career.
- Only played five games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and missed most of his 2021 season with a season-ending shoulder injury.
- Had 29 tackles, 13 forced incompletions and one INT, while allowing a 43.3% completion percentage and four TDs (per PFF).
- Aligned as an outside CB on 618 snaps, in the slot on only 13 snaps.
- Measured 6'0, 197 pounds, ran a 4.35 40-yard dash with a 1.45 10-yard split. Jumped a 42" vertical and 11'4" broad jump, earning a perfect 10 Relative Athletic Score.
- Banks is a smooth runner who is able to transition out of press coverage against vertical routes and run with just about any WR with his explosive straight-line speed.
- Often played through the catch point of the WR and was able to get his hand on the ball for PBUs (eight in 2022).
- Shows clear communication skills in zone coverage to pick up his assignment and has the athleticism to carry and pick up zone.
- Shows aggressive hand usage at the LOS and has natural strength.
- Would like to see more consistent hand placement to jam WRs in press assignments to disrupt their release and shed blockers in the run game.
- There are times on quick breaking routes within the first 5 yards where Banks struggled to adjust and relied on his recovery speed to make up ground.
Deonte Banks grew up just north of Baltimore in Edgewood, and played his college football just south in College Park, so you can see his geography and his play style as an easy transition to Baltimore. Banks was tested in a variety of coverages and showed versatility in what he was asked to do. He has the size, athleticism and strength to be a press cover CB and shows the speed and instincts to play in zone. Banks will look to round out his consistency with his technique at the next level, but there's a ton of potential with his raw physical gifts.
Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State
- Four-star recruit out of Grenada High School in Mississippi, where he also lettered in basketball and baseball.
- Started nine games as a true freshman in 2020 and all 25 games in 2021 and 2022. Was named a 2022 AP Second-Team All-American.
- Had 42 tackles, forced nine incompletions and had six INTs, while allowing a 53.4% catch percentage and three TD (per PFF).
- In the last three years, he has allowed 14 TD, but has also collected 14 INT.
- Holds the FBS record for pick-sixes in a career with six (had three in 2022).
- Aligned outside on 661 snaps with eight in the slot and 55 in the box in 2022 (per PFF).
- Forbes is an instinctual ballhawk, who diagnoses routes at a high level and shows keen pre-snap awareness to put himself in a position to make a play on the majority of his snaps.
- Forbes ran a 4.35 40-yard dash and that straight speed shows on tape when he's carrying a deep route in man or covering the top of a zone.
- His ability to transition zones with teammates and pick up routes after a pass-off was a strength, projecting very well as a high IQ zone scheme CB.
- Despite his weight, he plays physical and attacks blockers and the ball carrier. This shows up in pass defense too, as he gets physical at the WR's stem to slow them down and limit separation.
- Despite the long speed, Forbes showed some issues transitioning his hips and maintaining balance on breaking routes. He did mitigate this with physicality, but there are times he gives up separation.
- He's a risk taker, which will lead to taking the ball away from his opponent, but there will be times where his risk doesn't pay off.
There will be a lot of discussion about weighing in at 166 pounds, but the Ravens look for big, long, physical CBs and Forbes checks a lot of those boxes. He does project better as a zone player than a press man player, where he can use his instincts and high football IQ. With the possible departure of Peters, the Ravens will be looking for a ballhawk who can generate turnovers and Forbes fits the bill.
Kelee Ringo, Georgia
- Five-star recruit, and the 4th-ranked overall prospect (1st CB) in the 2020 recruiting class, out of Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Ariz.
- Redshirted in 2020 before earning a starting spot on a loaded Bulldogs defense in 2021 and earning All-SEC Freshman honors.
- In high school, was a top sprinter, with the top 100-meter (10.43) and 200-meter times (21.18) in the state of Arizona as a junior.
- Had 40 tackles, forced 11 incompletions and had two INT, while allowing a 53.8% completion percentage and one TD in 2022 (per PFF).
- Aligned as an outside CB on 755 snaps with only 25 in the slot.
- Measured 6'1, 207 pounds, ran a 4.35 40-yard dash with a 1.49 10-yard split. Completed the shuttle in 4.26 and the 3-cone in 7.21. Jumped a 33.5" vertical and 10'2" broad, earning an 8.23 Relative Athletic Score.
- Ringo had very impressive athletic measurement numbers and they're evident on film. He's big and athletic and showcases it with long speed and an explosive first step.
- Loose hips to transition off press and continue up field.
- Film showed that Ringo's best work was in zone coverage or in under man, especially where he is able to transition off press and play underneath with safety help.
- Extremely physical at the LOS and in run support or tackling anything underneath him.
- Against wider releases where Ringo needs to slide before getting his hands on a WR in press, he had issues mirroring the slide to get his hands on a WR, especially if it was hesitation or double up release.
- Needs work on route recognition, which showed on improvised routes during a QB scramble.
Ringo's physical upside and his pedigree are going to be of great interest to many teams. However, his prototypical size, his ability in press and to play zone makes him an intriguing fit for the Ravens. With shades of Jimmy Smith, it would give the Ravens a very physically dominant pair of outside CBs with Humphrey and could fill the shoes of Peters.
Garrett Williams, Syracuse
- Three-star recruit out of Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg, N.C., where he was also a sprinter in the 100 and 200 meter in track and field.
- Redshirted in 2019 before being named a Freshman All-American and earning two straight All-ACC nods.
- Started seven games in 2022, before suffering a season-ending ACL injury.
- Prior to his injury, Williams had 27 tackles, forced three incompletions and had two INT, while allowing a 66.7% completion percentage and allowing one TD (per PFF).
- Played 239 snaps as an outside corner with none inside but did play 43 snaps in the box (per PFF).
- Due to the injury, Williams was not able to complete any pre-draft athletic testing or compete in Syracuse's Pro Day.
- Williams pairs fluid hips, good route recognition and an explosive first step to change direction well and break on routes, both in zone and in man coverage.
- From press alignment, Williams has a quick slide step and enough fluidity to utilize jam presses and soft shoe releases to keep WRs guessing.
- He plays physical through a WR's stem and can throw off pass timing by jamming WRs in their route.
- Excellent awareness in zone coverage to pass off routes and jump routes that are entering his zone.
- Consistently gets his head around to the ball on deep throws.
- At times, Williams gets too deep in his zone in C3 and C4 coverages where he's playing a deep part of the field, allowing easy windows on short breaking routes (i.e. curls, hitches).
- Would like to see more consistent hand placement in press. Williams tends to rely on his footwork, but at the next level, on the outside, he'll have to get more handsy in press.
Williams projects as an outside corner in the NFL, despite being on the shorter side. He plays physical against the run and through WR's routes. He is fluid and explosive and should be a great fit for a versatile scheme that will ask CBs to play in press and in off coverage.