Ravens draft position-by-position breakdown: Defensive backs

Ravens officials frequently call the draft the "lifeblood" of their organization and they put a tremendous amount of time and resources in preparing for it each year. They consistently downplay any outside attempt to place a greater importance on one draft compared to others.

However, as this year's version gets closer – the three-day draft will begin on April 27 – the Ravens have the same sense of urgency that presided over their aggressive start to free agency and what's been significant offseason roster turnover.


Ravens coach John Harbaugh has spoken confidently about his team returning to the playoffs after missing out three of the past four years, but a strong draft is seen as a must.

The Ravens have seven total picks, including the 16th overall selection in the first round, two in the third round and four of the first 78 selections. Their needs include a play-making wide receiver, one or two ready-to-play offensive linemen, an explosive edge rusher and depth along the defensive front and in the secondary.

Until April 26, the day before the start of the three-day draft, The Baltimore Sun will look at the Ravens' depth chart at each position, the likelihood that they will add to it and who they possibly could target.

Today we'll examine defensive backs.

Current defensive backs under contract: Cornerbacks — Jimmy Smith, Brandon Carr, Tavon Young, Kyle Arrington, Maurice Canady, Sheldon Price, Robertson Daniel; Safeties — Eric Weddle, Tony Jefferson, Lardarius Webb, Anthony Levine Sr., Otha Foster.

Chances that the Ravens will draft a defensive back in first three rounds: Decent. Much of the Ravens' offseason activity has focused on solidifying their secondary. Gone are cornerbacks Shareece Wright and Jumal Rolle, and safeties Kendrick Lewis and Marqueston Huff. Back on a pay cut is Webb. In on free agent deals are Carr and Jefferson. Team officials insist they aren't done either as they'd still like to add more youth and depth at both cornerback and safety. The draft is loaded at cornerback so it would almost seem a missed opportunity if the Ravens don't take advantage of that and grab a corner with one of their first four picks.

Possibly on Ravens' radar: Cornerbacks — Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado), Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Marlon Humphrey (Alabama), Sidney Jones (Washington), Kevin King (Washington), Fabian Moreau (UCLA) ; Safeties —Josh Jones (N.C. State), Desmond King (Iowa), Obi Melifonwu (Connecticut), Jabrill Peppers (Michigan)

Outlook: It seems the Ravens find themselves short-handed in the secondary every season. Several cornerbacks have struggled to consistently perform or fight through injuries and stay on the field. Team officials have worked hard to add depth on the back end and their desire to accumulate even more will likely lead them to drafting at least one defensive back, if not two. Carr may only be a one-year stopgap and Smith's injury issues make him a hard player to trust. It wouldn't be surprising if the Ravens took a cornerback early although they haven't taken one within the first three rounds in five consecutive drafts. They'll have plenty of guys to choose from as pundits have declared this cornerback class as one of the most talented ever at the position. Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore will certainly be gone, but the Ravens may have their choice of Conley, Humphrey or King in the first round, or Moreau, Jones, Awuzie, Florida's Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson, Louisiana State's Tre'Davious White or Southern California's Adoree Jackson in the second. As for safety, the Ravens could use some youth behind Weddle, Jefferson and Webb. They figure to try and get it in the middle to late rounds.