Ahead of minicamps and training camps, I’m taking a look at the most intriguing battles on the Ravens’ depth chart. Here’s the outlook at safety:
Safeties on the roster
Terrence Brooks, Matt Elam, Anthony Levine, Kendrick Lewis, Nick Perry, Lardarius Webb, Eric Weddle, Jermaine Whitehead
The Ravens tried to trade up for talented defensive back Jalen Ramsey during the draft, but he went No. 5 to Jaguars after the Cowboys refused the Ravens’ offer for the No. 4 pick. Ramsey would have been a great fit in the Ravens’ defense with his size, and ability to play both safety and corner.
However, signing Weddle during free agency was a key move. He was a three-time Pro Bowler for the Chargers and will take over as the leader in the secondary. The Ravens made too many pass coverage mistakes last season that resulted in big plays. Weddle’s ability to recognize formations and anticipate what’s coming should make the defense more difficult for quarterbacks to read, which could result in the Ravens forcing more turnovers.
Webb, who is making the transition from corner to safety, looks like the starter opposite Weddle. The position switch will present Webb with some challenges, but the Ravens believe his ball skills will improve the secondary’s consistency in pass coverage.
At least one other safety should see plenty of snaps, and Lewis has the inside track for that role. Lewis started last season opposite Will Hill, who was cut in March after testing positive for a banned substance for the fourth time in his career.
That leaves Brooks and Elam battling for a role. Elam has been a huge disappointment as a first-round pick in 2013. He missed all of last season with a torn triceps, and the Ravens did not pick up the fifth-year option on Elam’s contract earlier this month. Brooks was a third-round pick in 2014, and his development was slowed by a knee injury as a rookie. For both Elam and Brooks, training camp and the preseason will be vitally important.
Levine is a standout on special teams and will likely earn a roster spot in that role. Add Weddle, Webb, and Lewis, and that’s already four safeties on the 53-man roster. Whitehead and Perry are long shots to make the final 53. Barring injury, that leaves Elam and Brooks on the bubble, needing to perform well and stay healthy to make the roster.