Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Marlon Humphrey is Quietly Developing at a Pro Bowl Level

December 03, 2018 - 6:03 am

By Joe Schiller 

The Ravens were coming of their bye.

Less than a week following a 23-16 loss to the Steelers – their third straight, Baltimore began preparation for the Cincinnati Bengals, in need of a win to keep their playoff hopes alive after falling to 4-5. 

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey returned in the Week 9 matchup against Pittsburgh after missing the previous two games with a thigh injury. When asked about Humphrey’s ability John Harbaugh gave praise to his young defender, saying, “I really think Marlon is becoming one of the top corners in the league.”

Ravens’ safety Eric Weddle was asked about Harbaugh’s comments and added his thoughts. 

“I think the sky’s the limit for him,” the veteran safety said about his second-year teammate. “He just needs to focus on every play. He has too many lapses in a game, and he knows it. I think he can get there. But I wouldn’t anoint him yet.”

The beginning of Weddle’s statement gives you all you need to know about what Humphrey’s teammates believe of him and what general manager Ozzie Newsome saw in the Alabama product in the NFL draft two years ago. 

The Ravens weren’t in dire need of a cornerback in the first round at time, having signed veteran Brandon Carr in the offseason, which solidified a deep group led by Jimmy Smith. But Humphrey has developed into a tremendous defender and is quietly playing at a Pro Bowl level this year.

Matched up against a Falcons’ offense on Sunday that was averaging over 300 passing yards a game with weapons such as Julio Jones, Humphrey recorded a team-high two passes defended and helped limit the high-powered opposition attack to just 97 yards through the air.

Per Pro Football Focus, Humphrey entered Week 13 as the top-rated cornerback on third and fourth downs this season. Running stride-for-stride and shielding a physical receiver like Jones – who was limited to 18 yards on two catches – won’t show up in the box score.

Jimmy Smith’s $15.8 million cap hit makes him a potential cap casualty in 2019. Brandon Carr will be 33 entering the third year of a four-year deal.

I don’t think it’s premature to say that the Ravens have found their future No. 1 cornerback in Marlon Humphrey and games like Sunday continue to further that notion.