10 years ago, I witnessed All-Pro wide receiver Jimmy Smith of the Jacksonville Jaguars terrorize Ravens cornerbacks for over 200 yards receiving. Now, The Ravens have their own Jimmy Smith. His job? To make sure receivers don’t get passed the line of scrimmage.
The Baltimore Ravens used the 27th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft on Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith. The 6’2″ corner specializes in press coverage and blanketing receivers. What did the team need? A player who could do just that.
Smith comes with a lot of baggage, but if history is any indicator for the Ravens, he won’t be much of a problem. Cornerback Chris McAlister had a lot of baggage coming out of Arizona in 1999, but he proved to be an all-pro type cornerback and was with the team until 2008 when injuries and disagreements with the coaching staff caught up with him. If the Ravens can keep Smith in line for the next nine years, all the while playing like a top-flight corner, I don’t think anybody will be too unhappy. Afterall, who was Smith compared most to? Chris McAlister.
Smith will be an immediate contributor. His competition includes Domonique Foxworth (coming off of a torn ACL), Lardarius Webb, and Cary Williams. Those are smallish corners who have trouble jamming receivers at the line. Smith will be a player who can not only jam receivers like McAlister, but run with them as well.
Let’s be honest. There are two things that stop the Ravens from the Super Bowl: Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Cameron.
Roethlisberger is able to hit receivers who run freely because they get off of the line easily and can run with him while he moves around in the pocket. Cameron, offensive coordinator, doesn’t allow the Ravens offense to open up as much as he should. I believe those two things are about to change for the better. Quarterback Joe Flacco has been furious and adament that he should have been able to open up the passing game in 2010. He was right. They wasted a great effort in Pittsburgh in the AFC Divisional Round and came up short.
Can Smith be one of the final pieces of the puzzle? I believe he can be. But will he be able to stay on the field and be McAlister 2.0?
Time will tell.