The Baltimore Ravens’ Willingness to Trade Shaun Wade Highlights the Depth in the Secondary

The Baltimore Ravens have predicated their style of play over the years on two things. They run the ball effectively and play smash-mouth defense. The front office drafted Shaun Wade to be a potential future starter on defense. Things have not panned out, and he’s already on the move.

Baltimore has traded Wade to the New England Patriots for a seventh-round draft pick in 2022 and a fifth-rounder in 2023.

The Baltimore Ravens drafted Shaun Wade in the fifth round

Shaun Wade on the field during Baltimore Ravens training camp
The Baltimore Ravens traded 2021 draft pick Shaun Wade to the New England Patriots | Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Ravens selected Wade in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Wade played his college ball at Ohio State University, where he was a stud as a freshman and sophomore.

He initially declared for the draft after the 2019 season but later withdrew his name and returned to Ohio State to graduate. Not keeping his name in the draft ultimately ruined his first-round draft stock.

Wade was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a consensus All-American in 2020. Still, it wasn’t enough to maintain his status as a first-rounder. He endured ups and downs throughout the season, which was impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Making the transition from slot corner to the outside was a bit of an adjustment as well.

The Jacksonville, Florida native struggled in the national championship game against Alabama. He matched up with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith and the wide receiver got the better of him. Unfortunately for the Ohio State corner, that was his last opportunity to face high-level competition on the field before the draft.

Wade got bypassed in training camp and the preseason

There was a level of mystery to Wade coming into the NFL. It was unclear if he’d be able to regain form and bounce back mentally. The Ravens have a proven history of developing defensive backs and had high hopes for the fifth-rounder.

He believes he has first-round talent, according to his post-draft press conference. Wade went into training camp with a chip on his shoulder. He had some good moments, but there’s plenty of young players in Baltimore’s secondary.

Wade’s usage in the preseason served as a possible indicator of the former Buckeye’s future with the team. In the second preseason game, he only played nine defensive snaps. He was out-snapped by Anthony Averett, Nigel Warrior, and Chris Westry.

With the returning talent in the defensive backfield and the trio’s emergence mentioned above, Wade had a crowded path to making the Ravens 53-man roster. It appears he didn’t play his way out of a spot, but the other guys played their way onto the roster.

The Ravens have one of the deepest secondaries in the NFL

The Baltimore Ravens boast one of the league’s top defensive units. The secondary has been a point of strength for defensive coordinator Wink Martindale over the past few seasons.

They’re led by All-Pro cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. The duo has forced 25 turnovers combined since the Ravens acquired Peters from the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. Chuck Clark and DeShon Elliott are a promising young tandem at safety. Clark is one of the most instinctive players on the defense, and Elliott’s physicality is a perfect fit in Baltimore.

Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young have battled injuries throughout their respective careers, but the talent is there. The latter had two consecutive seasons cut short, but he appears to be healthy heading into 2021.

Anthony Averett has struggled through three seasons, but Martindale has been raving about him in camp. Geno Stone was a sixth-round pick in 2020 and has also come along in the offseason.

Rookies Brandon Stephens and Ar’Darius Washington appear to have roster spots locked up as well. Both have impressed the coaches and will have roles for the Ravens in 2021.

The Baltimore Ravens are deep in the secondary. It’s a testament to the front office’s eye for talent.

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

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