The big saying around the Baltimore area when it comes to Ravens fans and the personnel decisions regarding the team is “In Ozzie We Trust”.
Well, with the Ravens selecting Colorado CB Jimmy Smith Thursday night with the 27th pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft-after letting the Kansas City Chiefs move ahead of them-it goes to show you that Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome will take all the advice he will hear regarding a player, but when it comes time to make the final decision and turn the card in, Ozzie’s the one to make the call.
Smith was the third corner back taken off the board behind LSU’s Patrick Peterson who went fifth overall to the Arizona Cardinals and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara who went to the Giants at pick #19.
And it could be said that Smith may be the best corner out of the three, but other factors dropped his stock when it came down to draft day.
Numerous draft experts had the Ravens picking Smith, the 6′ 2”, 210-pound CB out of Colorado, but leading up to the draft, early impressions out of the Ravens front office and scouting department was that given Smith’s issues off the field-including the likes of citations for underage-drinking, marijuana usage and more, that would cause the Ravens to go elsewhere.
He was arrested twice in Boulder, Colorado for possession charges and failed a drug test in 2007.
He was said to have had a drinking problem and has been caught with marijuana in his early college days.
I imagine this being the scene in the Ravens war room as time slowly clicked away as Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, coach John Harbaugh, and Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz were all fighting over who to take or what to do with the 26th pick.
However, a four year player for the Buffaloes, he is said though to have taken on a more mature role as an upperclassmen the last two seasons.
“I went to college and I made some mistakes,” Smith told NFLDraftScout.com. “”I was a young player who mistakes. But I grew as a person.”
He has stayed off the police blotters since that 2007 season, and during his junior and senior years at Boulder, he only allowed 11 completions in man-to-man coverage and began to get the “Nnamdi Asomugha treatment” as teams began to avoid throwing his way.
Still, Smith will be yet another question mark taken by the Ravens in consecutive drafts-with last year’s first pick in linebacker Sergio Kindle proving that he too was a concern given his demeanor off the football field when it came to alcohol abuse.
This also combined with several high draft picks in recent years not producing on the field including DT Terrence Cody and DE/LB Paul Kruger could be heating up the seat that Ozzie Newsome is sitting in right now.
Could it be time to wonder if the magic dust is wearing off “The Wizard of Oz?”
Plus, given the Ravens’ position with both Wisconsin tackles Gabe Carimi and hybrid Temple DL Muhammed Wilkerson on the board-both positions of need for Baltimore, one must wonder why a team that has several good-not great-corners on the roster decided to go that route.
Don’t forget. Domonique Foxworth is coming back healthy from a torn ACL, and Josh Wilson, Lardarius Webb and Chris Carr played well when pressed into duty last season. Even Fabian Washington could be in the mix as well should he be brought back on the team, although that appears unlikely.
And while Smith will automatically help a CB group that only nabbed seven interceptions last season, the Ravens did only record 27 sacks a team, with close to a third of those coming from one man, Terrell Suggs (11).
Again, going back to Ozzie Newsome’s mantra over his tenure in Baltimore-it has always been to “take the best player available.”
And while Smith may have been a Top-10 talent on the football field, are his character issues something that is going to pop up yet again-much like a former Raven first-round pick malcontent in Chris Mcalister?
Only time will tell. And Ozzie-you do have the 2nd round to make it up to doubters like myself.And I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume Sergio Kindle was a bump in the road.
And hey, look at the bright side. If Smith does get in trouble again and has to hold a press conference, at least we’ll be granted an audience to one like this…
WNST has you covered as we welcome your newest Ravens to Baltimore! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!