With training camp fast approaching, we’re breaking down each position’s competition. Today we look at the safeties.
In the Hunt
- Chuck Clark, third season
- DeShon Elliott, second season
- Tony Jefferson, seventh season
- Anthony Levine Sr., eighth season
- Earl Thomas III, 10th season
It will be fascinating to watch Thomas transition to the Ravens’ defense after nine superb seasons in Seattle. He’s one of the top defensive players of the last decade, a six-time Pro Bowler who impacts games with his range, instincts and ability to create turnovers. While the Ravens had the NFL’s top-ranked defense last season, forcing turnovers was not the unit’s strength (tied for 21st). Thomas has 28 career interceptions and brings the pedigree to create more takeaways. Tony Jefferson had an excellent 2018 season, and his physical style compliments Thomas’ strengths. Jefferson should have more freedom to play closer to the line of scrimmage, and he’s one of the team’s best tacklers. The Ravens lost an excellent safety in Eric Weddle, whose deception and communication on the back end was vital last year, but the Thomas-Jefferson safety tandem has the potential to be among the league’s best.
DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark are two young safeties battling for more playing time. Clark filled in well last season when Jefferson was out with an ankle injury, including an interception off MVP Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Elliott was a standout during OTAs and minicamps this spring, making several impressive interceptions and showing his range. Elliott missed his rookie season in 2018 with a broken forearm, but it’s clear he’s back to 100 percent and has playmaking ability. Thomas and Jefferson are established as the starters, but both are veteran players who may benefit from having occasional breaks. The Ravens will also use a variety of defensive packages, which gives Elliott and Clark a chance to play more if they show they’re ready.
Under the Radar
Anthony Levine Sr. remains the “Co-Cap” of the special teams unit and a valuable Swiss-Army knife on defense with the versatility to play safety or linebacker. Expect Levine to see reps on defense in certain packages, because the coaching staff values his smarts and toughness. Wherever Levine lines up, the Ravens trust him to be in the right spot. His versatility is an asset when the Ravens put together their 53-man roster.