When the Ravens signed Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott to their respective rookie contracts in March of 2015, it was viewed as an undervalued bargain by many. After all, who in their right mind wouldn’t want to have a pair of ball hawks patrolling the back end of the defense?
The Ravens secondary has struggled over the last few years and it’s mostly because of poor play across the board. The team invested a lot of money into its secondary in the 2018 offseason and it’s showing signs of improving with the addition of free agent safety Chuck Clark and second year player DeShon Elliott.
In case you haven’t been following along, the Ravens have a young group of safety tandem who have come a long way since rookie minicamp in 2018.
In 2020, the Baltimore Ravens were ranked second in total defense. In 2021, they will once again have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The growth of the young safeties is one of the most important tales to follow for this unit. DeShon Elliott and Chuck Clark are maturing as players. As starters, the duo is in their second season together. This secondary may be the greatest in club history if both players develop in 2021.
Chuck Clark is one of the team’s most intuitive players.
Chuck Clark of Virginia Tech was selected in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. Clark had his finest year with the Hokies as a junior. He had a total of 102 tackles, with 60 of them being single. In total tackles, he was No. 9 in the ACC.
Clark was considered as a powerful tackler capable of escaping blocks and making huge hits in the run game when he was drafted. He “identifies ideas intuitively and has a high football IQ,” according to Pro Football Focus. Clark was compared to Adrian Amos in the NFL, which makes sense.
The product of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has fought his way up the defensive depth chart. Clark was more of a rotational player in his first two seasons. On special teams, though, he became renowned for making huge plays. In 2018, he was a backup to Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, though he made two starts.
Before the 2020 season, Weddle moved to Los Angeles, opening the door for Clark. Next to All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, he started 12 games.
Over the last two seasons, Clark has 169 tackles, four forced fumbles, and 2.5 sacks to his credit. Clark is a fan favorite with Ravens players and coaches, despite the fact that he is just 26 years old.
DeShon Eliott provides the Ravens’ trademark physicality.
After forcing a turnover, DeShon Elliott, Chuck Clark, and others sprint to the endzone | Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
When Elliott gets on the field, he seems like one of the Ravens defense’s most hungry players. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Ravens out of Texas.
Elliott had a strong three-year career with the Longhorns. He has 105 total tackles, nine interceptions, and 13 pass defenses in 26 starts. As a junior, he had the second-most interceptions returned for touchdowns in the nation with two. In 2017, Elliott was awarded a consensus All-American.
Pro Football Focus gave the Dallas, Texas native a 79.5 rating before to the draft. As a rookie, he played in six games but had little effect. Elliott advanced to the next level in year two.
For the Ravens, the former Longhorns standout started all 16 regular-season games. He had 80 total tackles, four pass breakups, and 2.5 sacks. When Elliott was throwing devastating punches to opposition players, he was at his best.
In college, the 24-year-old was a ballhawk, but in Baltimore, he has yet to record an interception. That number will undoubtedly increase as he becomes more at ease.
The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and Jimmy Smith lead the team. Peters and Humphrey are two of the NFL’s best ball-hawks and All-Pro cornerbacks. Over the last two seasons, the two have combined to cause 25 turnovers.
The Ravens also have complete faith in their two young safeties. In the 2021 season, Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott seem poised to take their individual games to the next level.
In the summer, head coach John Harbaugh has been preaching their praises. “If you just watch them move about, I think they’re both moving very well, which is a testament to them and the effort they’ve put in,” Harbaugh said. “They know how to make something seem like something else and do it in such a natural manner that the quarterback has a hard time identifying it.”
The Ravens were rated No. 2 in the NFL secondary by PFF going into 2021, behind only the Denver Broncos. This defense, particularly in the secondary, has a lot riding on it. Elliott and Clark are both in their early stages of their careers and have plenty of opportunity to develop. They’re also performing alongside some of the finest in the industry.
Several great defensive backs have called Baltimore home, notably Chris McAllister and Hall of Famer Ed Reed. However, as a group, this secondary has the potential to be the greatest in Ravens history.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
Gus Edwards is one of ten Baltimore Ravens players that can help the team reach the Super Bowl despite J.K. Dobbins’ injury.
- chuck clark
- ravens nfl