NFL Draft 2011 Grades: Baltimore Ravens Get High Marks for Now with Smith Pick

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NFL Draft 2011 Grades: Baltimore Ravens Get High Marks for Now with Smith Pick
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The Ravens got their man. For those of you who wanted a Chris McAlister-like cornerback in size, speed and attitude, you got him.

Colorado’s Jimmy Smith is a now a Baltimore Raven, and I am still not sure the Ravens wanted him. The Ravens tried to trade the 26th overall pick to the Bears but the Bears claim they had a disconnect, causing the trade not to go through.

Actually, Smith is just what the Ravens wanted in every sense of the word. They just felt like they could still get him at No. 29 and pick up an extra pick in this year’s draft in the process by trading with the Bears.

They are very lucky the Chiefs did not need a cornerback.

Once the trade failed, the Ravens missed their pick as time ran out and the Kansas City Chiefs selected at No. 26. They chose Pittsburgh WR Jonathan Baldwin. With pick No. 27, the Ravens chose Smith.

The Bears issued the following apology to the Ravens.

“It was our fault,” Bears general manager Jerry Angelo told reporters. “They did everything according to the rules...We had a disconnect. Whatever you hear, Baltimore did everything right.”

The Ravens have taken a huge gamble in selecting Smith. Many touted the Colorado cornerback as a top 10 pick but off the field, issues dropped him significantly in the first round.

According to published reports, Smith failed numerous drug tests at Colorado, and he informed one team that one was for misusing codeine. He also told teams about two alcohol-related arrests for underage drinking and had an arrest for third-degree assault in a restaurant.

In a poll this month by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 of 24 NFL personnel men said they would not draft Smith in the first two rounds.

"He's as athletically gifted as Nnamdi Asomugha," an NFC personnel director told the Journal Sentinel. "He's got all the ability in the world. He also could be a supreme punk."

The Ravens filled a major need in drafting Smith and if a locker room that is notorious for handling misfits can calm Smith down, then Baltimore hit a home run. That is a big if though.

The Ravens are in need of cornerbacks as Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, Fabian Washington and safety Dwan Landry are all free agents of some sort, either restricted or unrestricted.

The Ravens defense allowed eight leads to evaporate in the fourth quarter last season the most in the NFL. Their lack of talent in the secondary and injury issues may have been a major factor in the team finishing with a franchise-low of 27 sacks in 2010.

Was Smith the right pick

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Smith is considered an immediate upgrade for the Ravens at the cornerback position.

An All-Big 12 selection and an honorable mention All-American, Smith was only thrown at roughly 20 times in man coverage last season. He allowed one touchdown, had no interceptions and five pass deflections.

He was rarely thrown on, a classic shutdown corner. He finished his career in Colorado with 183 career tackles and 16 pass deflections with three career interceptions.

Even more impressive than any other stat was that Smith only allowed 11 completions in man coverage as a junior and senior.

Smith is fast and strong. He will not be handled at the line of scrimmage and he will not get out-run either.

Smith ran the 40-yard dash between 4.37 and 4.42 seconds at the NFL scouting combine where he bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times and registered a 36-inch vertical leap.

This is the type of pick that is tough to grade right now. However, Smith said all of the right things in a conference call with Baltimore Sun reporters late Thursday night.

“The things that I did are old mistakes and bad decisions that I made when I was younger and immature,” Smith said. “It’s in the past now, and I’m just trying to be the best player and person off the field for the Ravens that I can possibly be.”

"We've done so much homework, and what I like about Jimmy is he's been forthright with everything that's happened to him," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He had a lot of situations. He didn't try to hide anything. He put it all out there for the whole world to see. He's doing to have to deal with that.

On talent alone and filling a need the Ravens get an A. However, if Smith fails to report to camp on time or starts causing problems, this grade could become a failing one very quickly for Ozzie Newsome and company.

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