Baltimore Ravens Smith’s struggles are a mystery

Malcom Floyd, back Jimmy Smith

When the Baltimore Ravens selected Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, the “experts” all echoed the same response to the choice of Ozzie Newsome.

Top 10 talent…BIG time character issues.”

The Ravens didn’t back down and they appeared comfortable with their selection.

The scouts did their homework and when they finished running Smith through the interviewing ringer, they believed he, like many athletes with checkered pasts, ran in the wrong circles. They also believed that Smith had matured over the years since his teenaged infractions.

And so when the Ravens were on the clock, the card they turned in read, “Jimmy Smith, CB, University of Colorado.”

Since his arrival, there hasn’t been even the first hint of character issues with Smith. All of the so-called red flags waved more regularly by NFL draft junkies than Ray Rice waves the green flag, have been tucked away. The anticipated off-the-field noise has been stone cold silent.

Queue up the crickets.

Unfortunately for the Ravens, Smith’s on the field contributions have been nearly as silent.

Since their inception the Ravens have used a first round pick on a defender 8 times. Four have been starters on opening day (Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Ed Reed and Haloti Ngata); three would eventually become starters during their rookie seasons (Duane Starks, Chris McAlister and Terrell Suggs); only one has failed to lock down a permanent starting job by his second season – Jimmy Smith.

Not until Lardarius Webb went down with a torn ACL finishing his 2012 season did Smith step into a full-time starting gig. He couldn’t even bump the struggling former 7th round selection of the Titans in 2008, Cary Williams, from the starting lineup.

And you have to wonder why.

No one doubts Smith’s measurable – all his physical tools to be a shut down corner. Yet his technique is questioned. He’s an inviting target for opposing quarterbacks. His bites on double moves are as predictable as another court date for Lindsay Lohan. Despite not being a starter for most of the season he is the second most penalized defensive back in the league.

Does he study film?

Does he love the game?

Is he accepting of advice from the coaches?

Is he dependable enough?

His performances to date will invite more attacks in the games ahead, particularly with Messrs. Roethlisberger, Rivers, Dalton and the Manning brothers ahead on the schedule.

We hear time and again that the talent is there to answer those calls.

But is the commitment?

The next 2+ months should tell us a lot about this underachieving corner.

9 Raves on “Baltimore Ravens Smith’s struggles are a mystery

  1. JerryB on said:

    He’s not the only recent dfensive draft pick that looks questionable. Terrence Cody and Paul Kruger look like complete busts and, then there is the Sergio Kindle cunundrum. He was supposed to be the perfect complement to Suggs as a pass rusher until the now infamous fractured skull and ensuing deafness in one ear. If he isn’t good enough to break into this decimated squad, why do they keep him around? And, if they think he can play, how ’bout trying something unique like……playing him!!! He can’t do much worse then the present group of underachievers and just maybe, he’ll surprise! But, we’ll never know if he stays on the practice squad……

  2. Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

    Valid points Jerry. I was just focusing on the first round picks and when they became starters and comparing them to Jimmy’s path to “starter-dom.”

  3. Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

    Josh, I think someone needs to get to Jimmy. You can’t force a man to love the game like Webb does. We’ll see what happens. The balance of the year should tell us a lot as we hopefully see that maturation process unfurling before our very eyes.

    • Josh on said:

      No, I agree that he has somewhat disappointed, but it is far too early to label him a bust. I was referring to the 20/20 hindsight that sometimes pervades fan sites when discussing a young player not immediately playing up to their potential. At the time we selected Smith no one can claim it was not a tremendous value pick of a player with great size and speed for his position. Hopefully Jimmy turns things around, because he is far too athletic and gifted not to play well.

  4. Ben on said:

    I’ve been seeing this “second most penalized” stat show up a lot and honestly, I don’t buy it right now. Keep in mind that even though he did have three against Dallas, the other two (I think) came when we had the replacement refs, when DBs weren’t allowed to wave to their families without getting an “illegal use of the hands.” I think this only becomes a concern if he keeps getting penalties in the few weeks after the bye.

  5. Tony LombardiTony Lombardi on said:

    Ben, didn’t they all play with the replacement refs? And if the Ravens game in Philly was any indication, those replacements allowed a ton of arm barring and contact beyond 5 yards…so much so that coaches game planned for it.

  6. ravens52 on said:

    Actually I have a different take. Jimmy Smith showed a hell of a lot last year down the stretch. He had one learning game and that was San Diego. Outside of that he played good football and people saw a great deal of promise. I’m not sure, but when you look at all the players that came into this year that lost weight, they all are terrible. Lewis, Cody, McClain, Jimmy Smith all lost weight. I wonder if all the weight loss creates:

    1) fatigue
    2) lack of feeling comfortable on the field
    3) diminish your best assets

    Jimmy displayed a great deal of flash as a rookie in limited games due to the high ankle sprain. He finished the season with three interceptions. Also, just looking at some video and coaches film, I think there is a lot of confusion in the calls. There better be. If not they are just terrible calls. I was watching the Texans tape again and on one snap Reed was the deep safety, Pollard lined up over the slot to the left side of the field and Williams over the flanker there. Jimmy had man to man on Andre Johnson on the right side of the field. But there was an interesting problem. On the right side of the field Jimmy and Ed were playing man to man on AJ. Jimmy being man to man, Ed being the deep safety over the top of Johnson. On the left side, they were playing cover 3 zone? Pollard collisioned the slot receiver and released him. Williams dropped to deep 1/3 and was late getting over to cover the slot. I’m confused. Was this the call or did someone not understand the call? This is not the first time I’ve watched coaches tape and seen this.

    Either the coaches are calling some bull or the players are not understanding and communicating or BOTH. Something is not right and it isn’t just guys not carrying out assignments. Anyways, from most of the games I have looked at on coaches tape, Ed Reed is being taken out of the game and doing what he does best because he has to baby sit the corners :(

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