Analyzing Second-Year Leap Scenarios for Baltimore Ravens' 2011 Draft Class
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It's going to take some time until we can tell how successful the Baltimore Ravens were in the 2012 NFL draft. However, earlier draft classes can be more easily evaluated. Let's look back to the eight players they drafted in 2011 and see just how well they've progressed and what to expect from them in their sophomore seasons.
CB Jimmy Smith
The Baltimore Ravens wanted Jimmy Smith badly in last year's draft despite a number of character-related red flags. They were smart to brush those concerns off, however, as they got themselves quite the first-round steal.
In his rookie season, Smith had 20 tackles and two interceptions while getting work in the defensive rotation. This year, he'll have a chance to be starting alongside Lardarius Webb.
Last year's starting corner, Cary Williams, underwent hip surgery and is still rehabbing. Chances are that Smith will take his spot and Williams will be relegated to nickel corner. This promotion isn't just a result of Williams' surgery, it's also a testament to Smith's skill.
WR Torrey Smith
The Ravens were hoping they'd landed quarterback Joe Flacco's No. 1 target when they took wide receiver Torrey Smith in the second round, and he certainly emerged as just that. He had 50 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns in his rookie season, all while playing through a sports hernia he suffered in Week 3.
Smith is fully recovered from February's surgery to repair the hernia and vows that he'll break 1,000 receiving yards in 2012. The Ravens certainly need a thousand-yard receiver, and Smith at full health should easily be able to do so.
What he needs the most is a real No. 2 on the field alongside him to draw some of his coverage; if the Ravens can give him that, 1,000 or more yards seems inevitable.
OT Jah Reid
The Ravens moved up to draft offensive tackle Jah Reid in the third round last year, and though he didn't start on their offensive line last season, he looks poised to earn a spot this season.
In 2011, Reid was primarily used on special teams while he developed his skills. Though he has mainly played tackle throughout his career, he's on the fast track to be the starting replacement for guard Ben Grubbs this season, though he'll be competing for the job with rookies Kelechi Osemele and Gino Gradkowski.
While Osemele may develop into a starter in his second or third season, the guard spot vacated by Ben Grubbs looks to be Reid's to lose in 2012.
WR Tandon Doss
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Tandon Doss didn't make as much of an impact as expected in his rookie season and saw most of his playing time on special teams. Doss dealt with a sports hernia surgery of his own after his senior season, and his rehab continued through his rookie season, which as a result saw him without a catch last year.
Doss has been working to get 100 percent healthy and should be a bigger contributor in 2012. He'll be one of at least three receivers competing for the No. 2 spot behind Torrey Smith.
CB Chykie Brown
Chykie Brown had just four tackles in his rookie season and was on the field for seven games. He's still a developmental player whose contributions are primarily on special teams. If he's ever going to be a starter, he'll need to stand out, and the Ravens' secondary is quickly becoming crowded.
Expect Brown to be the fourth or fifth corner on the Ravens' depth chart this year, competing for the spots with Corey Graham and the newly-drafted Asa Jackson.
DE Pernell McPhee
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The Ravens used their second of two fifth-round picks on defensive end Pernell McPhee in what was probably the steal of their 2011 draft. McPhee saw time in the starting rotation in his rookie season, notching 23 total tackles, one forced fumble and six sacks.
Now that starting linebacker Terrell Suggs is going to miss time—and perhaps the whole season—thanks to a torn Achilles tendon, McPhee might get quite the opportunity to make a name for himself.
McPhee will be among the backers and ends who will be competing for Suggs' spot, and if his numbers with limited playing time last season are any indication, he's an early favorite to win the starting job.
Even if he doesn't, expect McPhee's impact to be felt to an even greater degree in his second season. He's a gem on a defense full of talent and should be one of the team's biggest stars in no time.
QB Tyrod Taylor
Baltimore carried only two quarterbacks last year—Joe Flacco and rookie Tyrod Taylor. Taylor looked a little rough in his four preseason outings, but that's no surprise for a player who didn't have a full offseason to learn the playbook nor a full complement of workouts and camps.
Taylor had just one touchdown in the preseason, threw three interceptions and was sacked nine times. But his development could be seen on a weekly basis even in that short span, and he's going to be a solid backup for Flacco and could eventually replace him as starter someday.
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RB Anthony Allen
The Ravens were holding out hope that seventh-round draft pick Anthony Allen could be the dedicated backup for starting running back Ray Rice. Now it looks like he will slip to third on the depth chart behind 2012 third-round pick Bernard Pierce
Allen had just three carries for eight yards in his rookie season. While the Ravens certainly need more depth at running back, with Pierce in the fold don't expect Allen's carries to increase in his second season.
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