Jimmy Smith Emerging as a True Lockdown Corner


Sep 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) looks on prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody expected Jimmy Smith to emerge as a lockdown corner.  He has always had the talent and natural ability to be a top flight corner in the NFL, which is why the Ravens made him a first round draft choice.  As is often the case with cornerbacks, it typically takes 2-3 seasons for them to truly emerge.  And in this, Smith’s fourth season, the light appears to be coming on.

we aren’t afraid to declare Jimmy Smith as an emerging shutdown corner.  But will his numbers regress once Lardarius Webb returns?

Which is not to say that Jimmy Smith has disappointed in the last three seasons, but 2014 has the look of a special season. Even John Harbaugh went so far as to say that Smith was going to “make history” for the Ravens.  If that’s not one of the strongest endorsements we’ve every heard, well, I can’t think of one that is stronger at the moment.  But do the numbers support it, two weeks into the young 2014 season?

Through two games, Jimmy Smith has been thrown at a mere nine times.  This is not a surprise, considering the fact that Lardarius Webb has missed both games and Smith is being flanked by the likes of Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson.  5 of those throws have resulted in receptions (55.6%) for a whopping total of 23 yards (4.6 average).  Only five of those yards came after the catch.  Opposing quarterbacks have posted a meager 60.9 QB rating when throwing in Smith’s direction.

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Those are some pretty impressive numbers, even if it is early in the season.  Quarterbacks are obviously more prone to avoid Smith when there are easier options to pick on in the Ravens secondary, but this is yet another sign of a lockdown corner. NFL teams are smart, and they are going to throw the ball where they have a better chance at making a play. But can we truly declare Smith as a top corner through two games?  Let’s take a look at how the established “lockdown” corners of the NFL have fared so far.

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Pretty good, no?  Richard Sherman saw no action in week one against the Packers as Aaron Rogers didn’t throw his way a single time.  He was exposed against the Chargers, who shocked the world Sunday with a dominant performance against the world champs.  Nobody has been afraid to throw at Patrick Peterson this year, and he hasn’t been his normal self through two games. Revis is still perhaps the best corner in football, no matter what team he plays for.

So we aren’t afraid to declare Jimmy Smith as an emerging shutdown corner.  But will his numbers regress once Lardarius Webb returns?  That depends on how quickly Webb can return to form.  Once he does, opposing teams will have to pick their poison.  And that’s the kind of problem that defensive coordinators dream of creating on the field.