Bold predictions for Ravens rookies expected to start or contribute: Geno Stone
The Baltimore Ravens are expecting major contributions from several members of their 10-man rookie class. At least seven of them competed for starting spots in training camp and will have significant roles in their inaugural seasons. Despite not having any semblance of a real offseason due to COVID-19, many of them have stood out and impressed coaches and teammates alike in training camp.
While it is a tall task to ask or expect first-year players to hit the ground running and become immediate difference-maker let alone stars from the jump in a normal year, here is the fifth and final edition of the bold production predictions series for some of Ravens the rookies that are expected to be starters or at least key contributors in year one.
S Geno Stone hauls in four or more interceptions
Heading into his first NFL training camp the seventh-round safety out of Iowa didn’t have a clear and obvious path to meaningful playing time in his rookie season outside of special teams snaps on coverage and protection units.
However, following the release of seven-time Pro Bowl and future Hall of Fame safety Earl Thomas midway through camp, a pair of vacancies opened up in the Ravens still loaded secondary.
The first was at the other starting safety spot next to 2019 unheralded hero of the defense Chuck Clark and the second was the role of the third safety that comes on the field to help cover the deep middle as well as outside the numbers in obvious passing situations and sub-packages.
Third-year safety DeShon Elliott, who played the role of the third safety when he was healthy for six games last season, ascended into the starting spot next to Clark, and Stone is expected to assume that role as a rookie.
Since the Ravens opted to keep just four safeties on the initial active roster and veteran defensive backs Anthony Levine and Jimmy Smith will be playing hybrid roles in Defensive Coordinator Don Wink Martindale’s diverse and complex scheme, Stone is the only true safety behind Elliott and Clark.
Coming out of college, he was so highly regarded by pundits and draft analysts that when the Raven landed him in the final round of the draft, some of the top evaluators dubbed him the steal of the entire weekend following the three-day event because of the incredible value that they got so late with a player of Stone’s pedigree.
He was an excellent centerfielder for the Hawkeye and should not only fit right into his deep safety role with the Ravens but shine in it. Stone possesses great instincts and a natural feel in the passing game. His ability to read and react quickly coupled closing speed make him an ideal candidate to help limit and eliminate big plays downfield.
Stone recorded 109 tackles, five interceptions, seven pass deflections, four forced fumbles, a sack, and a touchdown off one of an interception during his last two seasons in college. He has ballhawk traits and will earn more playing time on defense by excelling on special teams.
While don’t think he will challenge renown ballhawk Marcus Peters for the team lead in interceptions in his rookie year, I do predict that he will maximize his limited amount of snaps and intercept at least four passes this season if not more in his role patrolling the backend as the third safety.
Total production prediction: 31 total tackles, four interceptions, six pass deflections, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.