Myles Garrett. Solomon Thomas. Jamal Adams. These are just a couple of the candidates thrown around for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. But how about Marlon Humphrey?
No, I’m being serious. Marlon Humphrey should have a legitimate argument for winning the DROY award. Numerous reasons surround this idea. Let’s break it down:
Marlon Humphrey was one of the top graded cornerbacks going into the 2017 draft. His physical traits are very attractive, standing at 6’0″/197 lbs. Humphrey also ran a 4.41 40-yard dash time at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine as well as adding a 125” broad jump and 6.75 three cone drill. The latter of the three led all cornerbacks.
These are traits you simply can’t teach. All the intangibles are there that are typically seen in elite level cornerbacks. But intangibles aren’t everything.
Joining the Ravens this off-season is one of the best and most under-appreciated safeties in the league: Tony Jefferson. He will join Eric Weddle to form arguably the entire NFL’s best safety duo. They will join two more veterans at cornerback in Jimmy Smith and Brandon Carr, the latter being added via free agency this past spring.
Meanwhile, the Ravens pass rush got a boost with youngsters Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams joining future Hall of Famer Terrell Suggs and second-year man Matt Judon. This group could become a wrecking ball for opposing offensive lines and make opposing quarterback’s lives miserable.
What does all of that have to do with Marlon Humphrey? It is to illustrate the kind of situation Humphrey has found himself in. The veteran leadership in the secondary will be crucial for Humphrey’s development as he adjusts to the professional level of football. Smith and Carr’s presence will likely push Humphrey to the slot, where he will take on opposing team’s second or third wide receiver. This will allow him to perfect his craft before he is asked to cover team’s top receivers.
Meanwhile, a good pass rush will force quarterbacks into bad decisions. That’s where Humphrey can really take advantage. If he can capitalize on these situations and force turnovers, his claim to the title of DROY will become more legitimate. Voters love numbers, and the more turnovers Humphrey can snag the better his chances.
On a good defense, someone has to challenge the rookie
Rookie cornerbacks have a big fat target posted on them by opposing quarterbacks. This means one thing: opportunities. As we just talked about, voters and fans LOVE numbers. Sacks, interceptions, you name it. How does this relate to Humphrey’s situation? It means he will get tested early and often. If Humphrey steps up, this could mean the 21-year old will have more opportunities to lead his team in interceptions.
As crazy as that sounds, it could very well happen. In fact, five interceptions seems like an attainable goal for the rookie. Anything past that is exceeding expectations. But five is a good start for Humphrey’s case at the DROY.
Obviously, odds are very much stacked against Humphrey to win the DROY. Five of the last seven DROY award winners were pass rushers, and just one DROY since 2010 was a cornerback. That was Marcus Peters back in 2015. He had to tie for the league lead in interceptions at eight.
This is very much a tall task for Humphrey, but it’s not impossible. Don’t count Humphrey out of the running. He could very well surprise everyone in 2017 if the stars align.