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Late for Work 6/28: Ravens Secondary Is Ranked No. 1 by Pro Football Focus

062822-LFW
(From left to right) S Chuck Clark, CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters

Ravens Secondary Is Ranked No. 1 by Pro Football Focus

Do the Ravens have the NFL's best secondary? Pro Football Focus believes so.

After ranking last in the league in passing yards allowed last season, the Ravens made key additions to the unit this offseason. Those additions, combined with improved health, are the reasons Baltimore's secondary is ranked as the best in the league by PFF.

"The Ravens simultaneously have some of the most question marks heading into 2022 from a health perspective while also possessing the highest-end elite potential," PFF's Michael Renner wrote. "Four of their five starters have earned top-10 grades at their respective positions at some point over the past four seasons. And this list doesn't even include rookie first-rounder Kyle Hamilton, who will undoubtedly factor in heavily."

At cornerback, the Ravens have one of the league's best duos in Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, and they added Kyle Fuller this offseason. Those three have a combined seven Pro Bowl appearances and four All-Pro selections. Baltimore also drafted cornerbacks Jalyn Armour-Davis and Damarion Williams in the fourth round, and both rookies were impressive in minicamp.

Whether Peters can return to form after missing all of last season will go a long way in determining just how good the secondary can be.

"Of all the injuries the Ravens suffered last season, losing Peters to an ACL tear in training camp may have been the most significant," The Ringer's Steven Ruiz wrote. "Baltimore missed his playmaking in the secondary, as the team finished with just nine interceptions in 2021. But more than that, his absence made former Defensive Coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale's aggressive brand of man coverage a lot harder to play.

"Peters' return will not only make [new Defensive Coordinator Mike] Macdonald's life a lot easier, but it should also have the same effect on Humphrey, the superstar of the secondary. Without another reliable corner across from him, the Ravens had to move Humphrey around a lot in 2021, which coincided with his worst season as a starter. Now that Peters is back, he should have a more consistent role."

The Ravens also are deep at safety, with Hamilton and coveted free agent Marcus Williams joining returning starter Chuck Clark. Veteran Tony Jefferson, Geno Stone and Ar'Darius Washington also are in the mix. There's also the versatile Brandon Stephens, who can play either safety or cornerback.

"The Ravens don't often bid on the top available free agents, yet they landed Williams after his market didn't swell like many expected it would," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "Williams, who is just 25, gives the Ravens the rangy, ball-hawking free safety they've lacked in recent years. The Ravens defense depends heavily on strong coverage on the back end and forcing turnovers, so Williams should be a nice fit."

The loaded secondary significantly increases the Ravens' chances of having one of the top defenses in the league this season.

"PFF has made its position clear on the coverage versus pass rush debate for team-building purposes. Nothing on the defensive side of the football translates better to points allowed than a secondary's performance in coverage," Renner wrote. "That means if a team expects to field a top-three defense in the NFL, it better at least end up as a Tier 1 unit on this list when we revisit after the season."

Ravens' Signing of Morgan Moses Is One of the Most Overlooked Offseason Additions

The secondary isn't the only position group the Ravens have bolstered. They also revamped the offensive line, including signing veteran offensive tackle Morgan Moses.

Bleacher Report's Alex Ballentine put the Ravens' acquisition of Moses at No. 5 in his rankings of the league's most overlooked additions this offseason.

Moses, 31, has played in every game since 2015 and only allowed four sacks with three penalties last season, per PFF.

"What makes the Moses signing so valuable is just how well he fits in with the Ravens' scheme," Ballentine wrote. "Baltimore is still one of the truly run-heavy teams in the league, and Moses is an excellent run-blocker. The Ravens' ability to identify a good culture and scheme fit in Moses is likely to pay dividends even if the signing didn't make headlines."

Ebony Bird's Justin Fried also believes the Moses signing should be receiving more fanfare.

"His incredible durability combined with his above-average play already makes this a very good move, but it's the value the Ravens got for him that truly makes this deal special," Fried wrote. "The Ravens signed Moses to a three-year, $15 million deal that will pay him just $5 million annually. That's well below average for a starting tackle, let alone one that hasn't missed a game in seven years.

"The Morgan Moses signing may have been overshadowed by the addition of Marcus Williams, but make no mistake about it. This could go down as the most important signing of the offseason."

What Is the Ravens' Biggest Remaining Offseason Need?

The consensus is that the two remaining items on Baltimore's offseason to-do list are adding a pass rusher and wide receiver. There is conjecture as to which is the more pressing need.

Pro Football Network's Dallas Robinson believes the Ravens' biggest remaining need is at wide receiver.

"The Ravens filled most of their needs through free agency and the draft, but wide receiver remains a glaring issue," Robinson wrote. "2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman will ascend to Baltimore's No. 1 role after the club traded Marquise Brown to the Cardinals. Behind Bateman, the Ravens have a cadre of young, unproven pass catchers in Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace."

Robinson said the Ravens should sign seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones.

"A veteran receiver makes sense for the Ravens, and Jones would give them a contested-catch threat on the outside," Robinson wrote. "Julio hasn't been able to stay healthy in recent years, missing 14 games over the past two seasons. Still, Baltimore can afford to take on that risk, given that the 33-year-old shouldn't command a significant salary."

NFL.com's Kevin Patra said the Ravens' need for an edge rusher should take precedence.

"Most of the focus has been on the Ravens' receiving corps following the trade of Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown to Arizona in April, but edge rusher is also glaring," Patra wrote. "Who will pair opposite Odafe Oweh in Mike Macdonald's defense?" Patra wrote. "The Ravens drafted David Ojabo in the second round, and he should be a steal, but who knows when he'll be healthy enough to be an every-down player after tearing his Achilles in March.

"Tyus Bowser is also coming off Achilles surgery. In addition, the team is still in mourning after the heartbreaking news this week of Jaylon Ferguson's death. For a defense with no other glaring weaknesses on paper, adding another edge defender would help take pressure off inexperienced depth and their guys coming back from injury."

Two veteran outside linebackers the Ravens could potentially sign are three-time Pro Bowler Jason Pierre-Paul, 33, and four-time Pro Bowler Justin Houston, also 33.

Pierre-Paul reportedly visited the Ravens earlier this month. The Ravens used the unrestricted free-agent tender on Houston, which means they would retain exclusive negotiating rights with him if he doesn't sign with another team by July 22.

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