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Glenn Clark: No Reason To Dislike Ravens' Marcus Peters Deal In A Vacuum, But ...

October 17, 2019
There's honestly no way to be particularly "down" about the Ravens' decision to trade for cornerback Marcus Peters Oct. 15. 

Peters has been a solid (and not that long ago) spectacular player, the Ravens have had depth issues in their secondary due to a litany of injuries and they didn't have to pay all that significant of a price to acquire the player. Even if Peters gets to free agency after the season and proves to be no more than a rental, he could end up helping the Ravens net a compensatory pick. 

Even if you're a cynic (not that I know any of those types at all), there's nothing not to like. Suggesting that the Ravens "fleeced" the Rams or that the deal was some sort of "coup" is probably a bit over the top. And no, Peters' presence by no means solves the team's single most significant issue. Their pass rush remains just as anemic. Perhaps they could make more moves, but there's still serious question as to whether such assets will even become available and whether it's really worth moving major draft capital to acquire players. 

That context in place, there's still no actual reason to dislike the Peters trade in a vacuum. But there's another part of the conversation that we should be having. 

When we say the Ravens didn't pay "all that significant of a price," it's because we rightfully don't expect much from fifth-round picks (and in fairness, the Ravens acquired an extra fifth-rounder in exchange for kicker Kaare Vedvik anyway) and because linebacker Kenny Young had clearly fallen out of favor with the team and was no longer viewed as a significant contributor in the immediate future, which dampened long-term expectations as well. 

But, like, you know, that's kinda the problem. 

What we're essentially saying is that at this point, Young was no more than a throwaway player. Perhaps he can right his career path in Los Angeles (the Rams have to be hoping that the return to where he played collegiately at UCLA will help), but the Ravens were willing to part ways with Young for what could prove to be nothing more than a rental player. That basically qualifies as giving up on a player even if the team can never publicly admit that. 

So Young joins an overwhelming number of early- and mid-round picks who never did or haven't yet panned out for the Ravens in recent years. Simply looking at the post-Super Bowl XLVII era (and not considering this year's class because it's far too early to make judgments), the Ravens have definitely "hit" on just nine of 37 picks from the first four rounds, with only six of those players remaining on the roster. (Those I consider as "hits" are: Lamar Jackson, Orlando Brown Jr., Mark Andrews, Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley, Za'Darius Smith, C.J. Mosley, Brandon Williams and Kyle Juszczyk.)

Diving further, 21 of those 37 picks have been defensive players. So of 21 top-four-round picks spent on the defense between 2012 and 2018, only TWO are definitively good players who remain on the Ravens roster: Humphrey and Williams. That's it. Certainly the jury remains out on the likes of Anthony Averett, Chris Wormley and Tyus Bowser. And Tavon Young is a tough one to judge because he's played well when healthy but his injuries have been such a factor that it's impossible to label him as a definitive "hit." 

But even if you give the benefit of the doubt to a couple of these guys, this remains a sobering reality. Young joins the likes of Matt Elam, Arthur Brown, John Simon, Timmy Jernigan, Terrence Brooks, Carl Davis, Kamalei Correa, Bronson Kaufusi and Tim Williams as essentially wasted early- or mid-round picks. 

To be clear, I'm not suggesting the Ravens should be expected to find stars with every fourth-round draft pick. And I'm also not suggesting that the Ravens should simply continue to hold on to a player to avoid having to admit it was a waste of a pick. We've criticized the organization in the past for giving too many chances to a player just because of the draft capital that was spent on him. It is somewhat commendable for a team to acknowledge they may have erred on a selection and do their best to make something of the asset. 

But it's a reminder that even if the Peters move was logical and helpful, it doesn't necessarily mean the acquisition should be celebrated, per se. 

If he helps lead this team to a Super Bowl, we'll revisit then.