The Baltimore Ravens are entering the 2023 NFL Draft with a need at cornerback. Baltimore’s 26th-ranked passing defense allowed 232.2 yards per contest. General manager Eric DeCosta discussed a need for cover corners at the NFL Combine, admitting he gave head coach John Harbaugh 10 cornerbacks to watch and scout throughout the pre-draft process.
DeCosta must address his secondary if he hopes to compete with Joe Burrow and the pass-happy Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North division title. Furthermore, aging veteran Marcus Peters is set to reach unrestricted free agency and isn’t expected back in Baltimore next season. With DeCosta’s comments at the combine podium fresh in our minds, we’ve identified five cornerbacks the Ravens could potentially draft.
CAM SMITH, SOUTH CAROLINA
The Ravens own the No. 23 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Unless they trade up, they’ll likely be drafting a tad too late to land Christian Gonzalez, Devon Witherspoon, or Joey Porter Jr. South Carolina’s Cam Smith would represent one heck of a consolation prize, however.
Smith was once a part of the CB1 conversation but currently appears to be trailing Gonzalez and Witherspoon. Smith is extremely competitive and physical. His character fits the throwback style of a fierce Ravens defense. Smith possesses the size, footwork, and speed necessary to play man coverage on an island. Smith’s standout instincts and ball skills led to 18 career pass breakups and six interceptions.
The Ravens will have alternative options in the first round, such as a wide receiver, but Smith would be a plug-and-play selection at cornerback.
KYU BLU KELLY, STANFORD
Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly was one of the most impressive cornerbacks at this year’s Senior Bowl. Blu Kelly possesses a high football IQ. He’s a second-generation cornerback after his father Brian Kelly played for the position at USC before embarking on an 11-year pro career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions.
It’s easy to identify that Blu Kelly grew up around the game when combing through his tape. Blu Kelly is confident and competitive when being deployed as a man-coverage corner. Stanford often tasked Blu Kelly with playing near the line of scrimmage. Blu Kelly is experienced in dealing with run-gap fits, sealing edges, and getting to his spot-drops as a result. Blu Kelly is also an experienced nickel corner, so that’s added flexibility/versatility here.
JAKORIAN BENNETT, MARYLAND
The lesser-known Maryland cornerback, Jakorian Bennett was the Robin to Deonte Banks‘ Batman this season for the Terrapins’ defense. A former JUCO transfer from Hutchinson Community College, Bennett recorded five interceptions and 24 pass breakups across two seasons as a starter. Bennett is currently underrated.
Maryland utilized Bennett in a variety of manners. Bennett played cornerback, nickel, and even safety depending on Maryland’s personnel groupings and formations. Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald craves that sort of versatility in the defensive backfield. Bennett would be an ideal target for the Ravens in the fourth or fifth round, where the Ravens currently own one selection apiece.
REJZOHN WRIGHT, OREGON STATE
A former Last Chance U alum at Laney Junior College, Rezjohn Wright proved he belonged at Oregon State. The Palo Alto, California native possesses the swagger and tenacious energy required to quickly acclimate to the pro ranks. A 6-foot-2, 196-pound physical specimen, Wright understands how to use his 32-plus-inch arms to suffocate wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.
Wright is versatile enough to play man coverage or bail technique in Cover 3 approaches. That sort of universal skill set should appeal to Baltimore’s front-office brass. Wright is an early day-three prospect.
DARRELL LUTER JR., SOUTH ALABAMA
Darrell Luter Jr. also attended this year’s Senior Bowl. Luter earned a spot next to big-program corners due to standout production for the Jaguars. Luter totaled eight pass breakups and one interception in 13 regular-season appearances in 2022. It’s especially impressive when considering opposing quarterbacks typically looked the other way.
Luter plays bigger on tape than his size (5-11, 191) indicates. Luter does possess excellent arm length (32.5 inches) which he uses to his advantage to create tight throwing windows. Luter has every trait necessary to eventually develop into a starting-caliber cornerback.
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