Rookie cornerback Iman Marshall wasn’t watching the NFL Draft when the Ravens picked him in the fourth round. Marshall was at the movies, watching “Avengers: Endgame.”
Once the Ravens called, Marshall didn’t care about the next scene.
“I left!” Marshall said, smiling at the memory. “I had a party! It was a celebration after that.”
Now the plot thickens for Marshall, joining the Ravens’ deep cornerback rotation led by Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith, and Tavon Young. Will it be difficult for Marshall to earn playing time right away? Yes. But Marshall will learn from one of the NFL’s best cornerback groups, while giving the Ravens added insurance in case of injury.
Marshall had a solid debut during rookie minicamp last week, defending wide receivers aggressively and catching the eye of coaches. After one play, Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale gave Marshall a shout-out from across the field.
“Smart play there,” Martindale yelled toward Marshall.
“Thank you coach,” Marshall responded.
Whether it’s from a coach or a teammate, Marshall wants to absorb knowledge as quickly as he can, not just at cornerback but on special teams. That’s where Marshall may make his biggest contribution as a rookie. If that becomes Marshall’s primary role, he will embrace it.
“I feel like special teams is a key element of the game,” Marshall said. “It’s a situational game, and that’s a part of the game that has a situation every play, from a punt, kickoff, field positioning. In this game, it’s about controlling the yards. So, I’m excited to be a part of that, and I’m going to contribute early to the special team game.”
At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Marshall has the size to match up with bigger wide receivers. Perhaps down the road, he could also play safety if the Ravens felt they needed him there. However, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz said Marshall was drafted to be primarily a corner, where he played at USC.
“He’s a tough kid,” Hortiz said. “He could probably play safety, but I think right now, his value to us in the short term is a corner. He had a really good year this year. He had a lot of production on the ball. He’s a good tackler. I think he projects extremely well on special teams. I think bringing him in as a young player, (we’re) just kind of keeping him in his comfort zone.”
Friends and family have called Marshall “Biggie” since he was a child. He was given that nickname by his aunt, who was a fan of the late rap artist “Biggie”, or “The Notorious B.I.G.” The Ravens’ draft class is loaded with nicknames, including wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, and outside linebacker Jaylon “Sack Daddy” Ferguson.
Asked which nickname he liked best, Marshall smiled and said, “I have to say me. I love my name, but there are some great names out there.”
Marshall is already familiar with another member of the Ravens’ draft class, wide receiver Miles Boykin of Notre Dame. Boykin and Marshall played against each other in college, and now their Notre Dame-USC rivalry can move to the Ravens’ practice field. Marshall says his growth as a player can only be accelerated covering Boykin and other receivers in practice.
“He’s a tremendous athlete, tremendous player,” Marshall said about Boykin. “I’m excited to be coming in with him. I’ve seen what his ability is, and he’s going to help contribute to the offense tremendously.”
However, Marshall is focused on his own progress. He plans to finish watching “Avengers: Endgame” at some point. But his No. 1 priority is to make the Ravens happy they drafted him.
“All I’m here for is just to contribute to help this team be successful, and learn from those older guys,” Marshall said. “They’ve been in this system, they’ve been in this program, they know how to do everything right.”