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Rookie Spotlight: Cornerback Marlon Humphrey Solidifies Ravens Defense

By Abraham Gutierrez

Name: Marlon Humphrey
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 197 lbs.
Arm Length: 32 1/4"
Position: Cornerback
School: Alabama
NFL Draft Pick: 16th overall in First Round

Heading into the offseason, the Baltimore Ravens were desperate to find a cornerback to line up opposite of Jimmy Smith, and they may have found him in young, athletic playmaker Marlon Humphrey. However, after acquiring former Dallas Cowboys veteran Brandon Carr via free agency, the former Alabama standout will likely have time to get acclimated to life in the NFL before showcasing his talents in the starting role.

Despite the fact that Humphrey signed a four-year contract worth $11.84 million—with a $6.75 million signing bonus—it is unlikely that he will beat out Carr (or Smith) for first-string duties, but that could be a blessing in disguise.

The fact that the Ravens were able to bring back nose tackle Brandon Williams, coupled with the addition of Carr and safety Tony Jefferson, drafting Humphrey as the 16th overall pick appears to be a brilliant move in the long haul.

After being named (dual-sport) USA Today High School All-American (2012 and 2013) and earning first-team All-State honors as a defensive back in 2011, 2012 and 2013, he followed in his father's footsteps. Humphrey was recruited by Alabama in 2014 as the second-highest cornerback prospect in the country, and did not disappoint despite sitting out his first year as a redshirt freshman.

Under the tutelage of legendary head coach Nick Saban, he became a three-time SEC champ (2014, 2015, 2016) and was an integral part of the 2015 CFP National Championship squad. During his stint in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey played in 30 games, racking up 81 total tackles (61 solo) and five interceptions, including a pick-six.

The question now becomes: How will the Baltimore Ravens utilize Humphrey's talents in order to maximize his potential as a first-string cornerback for years to come?

Thus far, in training camp, life in the NFL has gotten off to a rather unglamorous start. Humphrey has been working with the second-team defense behind Smith and Carr, who are unquestionably the projected Week 1 starters.

"It's long days, I'll say that," Humphrey said. "I used to always wonder how football could be a job, but it seems like a normal job. You get breakfast, get lunch, get dinner, and in between you're just doing football. That was probably the only thing that's taking some time to get used to -- having that 8-5 day."

When opportunity knocks, one better be ready to answer, and it appears the 21-year-old from Hoover may have a window to compete for a role in the nickel.

A potential season-ending knee (ACL) injury to second-year cornerback Tavon Young during OTAs has left the Ravens with a significant void at the slot. And while Humphrey's traits aren't exactly tailor-made for the position, given how good he is as an outside cornerback, Dean Pees has stated he will certainly get some snaps.

"They all can play in the slot," said the Ravens defensive coordinator. "There are times where we play 'corners over,' and the corner ends up playing on an inside receiver, which really is a slot receiver. That being said, we really like him as an outside guy."

With Smith being the top cornerback on the roster and Carr—a guy that hasn't missed a game since coming into the league in 2008 (144 career starts)—signing a four-year ($23.5 million) deal, it is unlikely that Humphrey will earn a starting job in the upcoming NFL campaign.

Nevertheless, all indications are that the rookie will make a smooth transition from the college ranks to the pros to eventually develop into one of the premier physical cornerbacks in the league and, more importantly, he's already saying all the right things.

"As a team, definitely want to win the Super Bowl," Humphrey said of his aspirations as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. "Won in high school; won in college. Now I feel like the NFL is the next step to win that team championship."


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