Live From Owings Mills: Panic, Risk Surround Ravens’ Choice of Colorado’s Smith

April 29, 2011 | Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Does anyone remember what I said about Baltimore Ravens LB Sergio Kindle in my lede following the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft?

“In the case of Kindle, the number of red flags rivals the number that will be assembled in the corners of every pitch at this summer’s World Cup.”

As many inside the Ravens’ 1 Winning Drive facility will tell you, the story on Kindle is far from finished. Yet in the first 12 months, the first chapter has been far from what the team had hoped for. The 12 months included a fractured skull stemming from a fall at a house party in Austin that forced him to miss the season, admission to suffering from narcolepsy and a DUI arrest.

So when the name of Colorado CB Jimmy Smith was tossed around by NFL Draft analysts in the months following the end of the 2010 season, I found myself shaking my head over the idea of adding a player with the history of Smith. Smith’s rap sheet is…well…lengthy.

Smith’s history includes three failed drug tests (one of which he had admitted was codeine), two alcohol violations as a minor, an assault arrest, and two abortions paid for by the families of women he impregnated. (Rap sheet courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Even after the disappointment of their first pick in 2010, the organization’s decision makers said they were unconcerned about the troubles surrounding Smith-leading them to use their first round selection (which turned out to be the 27th overall) on the former Colorado corner.

“We put him through a process” said General Manager Ozzie Newsome. “Even more so than we do some of the other players. We came away feeling that he would be able to come here and continue to be the type of player and person that he’s been for the last couple of years.”

“We all spent a great amount of time with him” added Head Coach John Harbaugh. “We think he’s got a good heart, we think he’s very committed to being a great football player. We’re going to do everything we can to help him be that. As a head football coach I’m excited about this pick.”

In a conference call immediately following the selection, Smith said it had been more than two years since he had run into trouble. He also said he was committed to not replaying his past in Baltimore.

“The things that I did were old mistakes and bad decisions that I made when I was younger and immature” said the 2010 All-Big 12 corner. “It’s in the past now. I’m just trying to best player and person off the field for the Ravens that I can possibly be.”

In other words, the first 60 minutes following the team’s selection of Smith went better than the ten minutes leading up to the pick.

I can’t help but to come back to the fact that when the Ravens were faced with the choice of selecting the former Buffaloes star at 26th overall or trading out of the pick, the Ravens decided to trade out of the pick.

That decision doesn’t exactly stand tall next to the wonderful things the front office said following Smith’s selection.

Newsome confirmed an ESPN report that the team had an agreement with “another NFL team” to deal back from the 26th pick. ESPN reported the trade partner as being the Chicago Bears-which the Ravens would not confirm following the Draft. (The Bears later confirmed they were the guilty party and offered apologies to the Ravens). Newsome said the Ravens made the agreement to trade out of the pick, but their partner never received approval from the league. The panic surrounding the dissolution of the exchange allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to step in and select Pitt WR Jon Baldwin with the 26th pick, forcing the Ravens to jump back in and select Smith 27th.

In a deal with the Bears, the Ravens likely would have moved just three spots back