Every year, there are players who “break out.” This year, one of them will be the physically imposing Jimmy Smith.
Smith was brought to Baltimore with high expectations. He was dubbed the Ravens’ next great cornerback and was expected to match up with the best of the best.
Going into the 2011 draft, Smith was viewed as a top ten talent. Some experts even said Smith was better than Patrick Peterson, the fifth overall pick in the same draft.
Smith has had an inconsistent start to his career. In a 35-7 blowout victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011, Smith was injured on the very first play. Smith would come back that season and played well in stretches but was susceptible to double moves.
Perhaps Smith’s inconsistent play can be attributed to his college career. Smith was plagued by off field issues but they did not overshadow his performance in his junior and senior seasons. Over that time period, Smith gave up 11 completions with only one being for a first down. Those statistics are impressive by themselves but even more so when you consider Smith played in the pass-happy Pac 12-Conference. When looking at film from that year, teams rarely tested him in the passing game. Smith even excelled in run defense.
Because of his success in college, Smith is not used to being tested. Now that he has experience, he will have a great 2013 season.
Smith also has momentum on his side going into 2013. As I predicted, Smith had a huge impact on Super Bowl XLVII. Smith, the Ravens best tackling cornerback was assigned to cover Michael Crabtree towards the end of the game. Smith more than delivered by breaking up two passes. By forcing these two incompletions, the 49ers turned the ball over and the rest is history.
Lardarius Webb is the unquestioned number one corner on the Ravens’ roster. Smith will have to compete with Corey Graham who is second on the depth chart at this point. Offseason reports suggest Smith is a completely different player. According to these reports, Smith is more of a professional and is pushing Graham early on. Graham is a great corner but is more of a nickel corner. In addition, Smith’s physical prowess make him more suited to play on the outside.
The Ravens will need a solid year out of Jimmy. Have you seen the schedule? There are many elite receivers the Ravens will face. They include Demaryius Thomas, Andre Johnson, AJ Green, Brandon Marshall, and Calvin Johnson. Outside of Smith, there is not a cornerback on the roster that can match up physically with these players.
Expect a great season out of Jimmy Smith. He has every tool to become a superstar in the NFL.