In the Hunt
Chuck Clark DeShon Elliott Anthony Levine Sr. Jordan Richards Brandon Stephens Geno Stone Nigel Warrior Ar'Darius Washington
Clark and Elliott started all 16 games side-by-side last season and are projected to do the same this year. Good friends, they have an excellent rapport and communication, which is paramount on the back end of the defense.
Clark is the "heart and soul" of the defense, according to Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale. Clark knows the defense in and out and is a film junkie. He has the utmost respect of his teammates. Clark will be among the team leaders in tackles once again and will be looking to make more splash plays like his touchdown return and hurdle of Philip Rivers last season.
After suffering season-ending injuries his first two years in the league, Elliott stayed healthy all last season and had a strong campaign with 80 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and four passes defensed. He's a heavy hitter who is also looking to get his hands on more footballs. Elliott showed his ball-hawking ways in college with six interceptions during his All-American junior year at Texas. With a full season under his belt, he hopes to take the next step in his growth.
Behind the two starters, it's a competition to be the top reserve to come off the bench if needed. Levine re-signed this season as a special teams ace and versatile defensive weapon with loads of experience filling in. Richards can also pinch hit and is another special teams pro.
The young safeties are intriguing, especially Stephens as he looks to make another transition in his career. A former running back at UCLA, Stephens switched to cornerback when he transferred to SMU and excelled. Now the Ravens envision him as a possible safety/hybrid considering he has the size, speed, ball skills and tenacity for the position. There's a lot of learning to do, but Stephens seems to be picking it up well.
Stone was a seventh-round pick of the Ravens last year who was claimed by the Houston Texans but returned to Baltimore this offseason. Washington is an undrafted rookie and Warrior was an undrafted pickup last year who landed on the practice squad.
Under the Radar
Washington was ranked as one of the top undrafted rookies in the league by Pro Football Focus and the Ravens were aggressive in their pursuit. An undersized (5-foot-8, 176-pound) but more-physical-than-you-expect playmaker, Washington is among the undrafted rookies with the best chance to make the team if he can excel on special teams and turn some heads on defense.