While the league’s top secondary school title is controversial in the eyes of some, the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive backcourt is by far the deepest and most diverse. Perhaps no player on the roster is an example of that more than rookie defensive back Brandon Stephens, who comes out of the SMU in the third round.
The former Mustang is listed as the second free safety on the official team depth table compiled by the PR staff. However, he will compete across the field and be used in a variety of ways in Defensive Coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale’s program.
“His skills and what he offers on this roster is great,” said Martindale. “He’s just another one of those things … like I told you, defense turns it into an NBA matchup game, and he’s one of those pawns to love.”
Stephens hasn’t been playing defensive back very long, or defensive in general. He’s a converted running back who made the move when he moved from UCLA to SMU.
“I just felt like this was my best opportunity to get into the league, into the NFL,” said Stephens. “I had the feeling that this was the best place to contribute to a team. So that inspired me to change positions.”
He credits some of his cornerback success in college to his time in running back, where he learned to run courses and understand the concepts behind them.
“When I was at UCLA, my running backs coach wanted us to learn the concepts of the courses the receivers would run,” said Stephens. “That definitely helped me when I switched to defense.”
Though his squad spot has never really been jeopardized considering where he was drafted, Stephens still thinks he’s really blessed to be on the final roster.
“Just to be here and just get accepted into 53″ [-man roster]”It’s a dream come true for me and my family,” said Stephens. So I’m just looking forward to the season, the first week of the season and the start. “
Martindale liked what he saw of the rookie in training camp and preseason and believes communication will be key to his continued growth.
“That’s the greatest,” said Martindale. “I always talk to you guys – with all the newbies, but Brandon [Stephens] is a quiet guy, and if you’ve had the chance to speak to him, you’ll know what I’m talking about. ”
Stephens agreed with his coach’s assessment, admitting that “overcommunication” was one of the major challenges he faced during his transition to professional game safety.
“That’s something I didn’t really do in college when I was on the corner,” said Stephens. “I’m just trying to communicate with the guys on the field, that’s definitely something I make progress on every day.”
Preseason is usually a time when teams want to avoid shaking hands with future opponents, how their attacks and / or defenses work, or how they plan to deploy certain players. However, it is written on the wall how the Ravens plan to use Stephens based on its placement in their exhibition games.
He took snaps on both the corner and security, played in the box, roamed the deep center of the field, and even stood in the slot for quite a while.
Snap into the slot this preseason:
Brandon Stephens: 36
Ar’Darius Washington: 25
Anthony Averett: 13
Shaun Wade: 2
– Spencer N. Schultz (@ ravens4dummies) August 26, 2021
Stephens prides itself on his versatility and was glad he had preseason to showcase the pan. Last year’s rookie draft class didn’t get their first taste of live NFL action until the regular season opener after the pandemic caused their show season and personal off-season program to be canceled.
“I have always been convinced of my abilities and what I bring,” said Stephens. “All I need is an opportunity and I’m sure I’ll get it sometime during the season. So when I have it, I just have to take it and run with it.”
“I feel good at every point where the coach ‘wink’ [defensive coordinator Don Martindale] bring me in Whether it’s nickel, security [or] Corner, I just try to prove my versatility every day. Many of our coaches trust that I can do the job anywhere. “
With the pro bowlers Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, the Ravens probably have the best cornerback tandem in the league. With Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott you also have one of the most underrated and yet most dynamic security duos. Stephens is constantly looking for their heads to learn tricks of the trade and discover new ways to improve his game.
“I try to stay in her ear all the time, every day,” said Stephens. “They tell me something new every day that I would never think of. Just being with a great group of guys [in] the ‘DB’ [defensive backs] The space we have will only make each of us better. “
Stephens believes that his landing in Baltimore was predetermined and that the Ravens are the best opportunity for him to both be successful and display his full range of talents.
“I feel like God put me here for a reason,” said Stephens. “This is where I should be. To be picked up [No.] 104 in total, I was supposed to be picked up there. So I feel like this is the best place for me. It suits my skills and I’m just in a great group of guys – both on the offensive and on the defensive. The boys, we just get along. It’s a big family. “