*"The Competition" is a BaltimoreRavens.com series that will break down every position leading up to training camp. *
Lardarius Webb (5-foot-10, 182 pounds, fourth season):Baltimore's top cornerback is coming into this season with elevated expectations following his breakout campaign of 2011. Webb led the Ravens with five interceptions during the regular season and he added three more in the playoffs, which earned him some national recognition. Webb then signed a long-term contract in the offseason, as the Ravens are expecting him to only get better.
Cary Williams (6-1, 190, fifth season): Williams started every game for the Ravens last season and was given a second-round tender this offseason. He had hip surgery after the 2011 season to repair a torn labrum, which has limited his activity up to this point. Williams has not been able to compete in 11-on-11 drills, but he's hoping to be at full strength when the Ravens open training camp.
Jimmy Smith (6-2, 210, second season): Last year's first-round pick showed tremendous promise during his rookie season, although an ankle injury limited his activity early in the year. Smith has worked as the starting cornerback opposite Webb throughout the offseason and will battle for that spot with Williams during training camp. Smith also dropped about 15 pounds this offseason, and Head Coach John Harbaugh recently said that he expects “greatness” from the second-year cornerback.
Danny Gorrer (6-0, 185, third season): Gorrer signed with the Ravens in 2010 and has primarily been a special-teams player during that time. He was active in 11 games last season and finished the year with three tackles and four passes defended. Gorrer has been sharp during the offseason workouts and minicamp, and will challenge to earn his way onto the field.
Chykie Brown (5-11, 190, second season): Baltimore's 2011 fourth-round pick saw action in seven games last season and primarily played on special teams. He finished the year with three tackles and one pass defended.
Corey Graham (6-0, 196, sixth season): Baltimore signed Graham this offseason primarily as a special-teams ace. He made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer last year with the Bears, but he has shown this offseason that he also has potential to make an impact on defense. He looked good during offseason practices and will likely challenge for the No. 4 cornerback position.
Asa Jackson (5-10, 190, Cal Poly):The fifth-round pick has been limited up to this point because of an NFL rule that held him out of practice until his college finished final exams. Jackson participated in rookie minicamp in early May and full-team minicamp in June, but he missed all Organized Team Activities and rookie football school between the two minicamps. Training camp will be the first real opportunity to see him on the field with the veterans once he has spent more time in the defense.
Jordan Mabin (5-11, 180, Northwestern): The Ravens signed Mabin as an undrafted free agent after he made an impression as a tryout player during rookie minicamp. He still has to prove himself to earn a roster spot at a position with a lot of depth, and special teams will likely be the way onto the active roster for him. Also, Mabin could end up on the practice squad if he doesn't make the active roster.
This group of cornerbacks will likely have some of the tightest competitions throughout training camp, as the secondary is arguably the deepest position on the team. Webb has even said on multiple occasions that he thinks the Ravens will have the best secondary in the league.
The one certainty is that Webb will lead the group, but beyond that, every spot is up for grabs.
Smith and Williams will battle it out for the No. 2 cornerback spot, but both players have said they aren’t too concerned about who ends up winning the starting job because the Ravens often have three cornerbacks on the field. Smith appears to have the edge heading into training camp because he has been healthy the entire offseason, but Williams does have more experience.
For the dime cornerback role behind Webb, Williams and Smith, the Ravens have four players vying for time. Gorrer, Brown, Graham and Jackson are all fighting for an opportunity to get onto the field, and there doesn't appear to be a clear favorite at this point.
In addition to playing a role on defense, a key for Gorrer, Graham, Brown, Jackson and Mabin is that they impact special teams, which is an area the Ravens have emphasized this offseason.