Friday, April 29, 2011
How big a risk is Ravens CB Jimmy Smith?
By James Walker
Looking at his impressive game tape, there is no question on the field that former Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith plays like a Raven.
But can Baltimore's newest addition keep his act together off the field? That is the biggest -- and perhaps only -- question surrounding Smith.
The Ravens say they are comfortable with their selection of cornerback Jimmy Smith.
Coming off a successful 12-4 season, the Ravens were able to land one of the top pure talents in this year's draft by taking Smith with the No. 27 pick on Thursday. But the reason they were able to draft Smith so high was because many teams wouldn't touch him after a series of red flags.
Smith is often compared to both Nnamdi Asomugha for his physical abilities and troubled Tampa Bay corner Aqib Talib for his actions off the field. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported a laundry list of character concerns involving Smith, which included three failed drug tests, two alcohol-related violations and an arrest for third-degree assault.
The Ravens said they did a lot of homework on Smith's background and are comfortable with their decision.
"What I like about Jimmy [is he] came right out from the beginning and has been forthright with everything that’s happened to him," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh told reporters Thursday night. "He's had a lot of situations. He didn't try to hide anything. He put it all out there for the whole world to see. He's going to have to deal with that, and we're going to have to deal with that."
The Ravens took a character risk last year with second-round pick Sergio Kindle, who also is talented but fell down draft boards after some poor choices in college. Kindle came to Baltimore and got arrested for DUI in December. Although unrelated to character questions, Kindle also fractured his skull while falling down a flight of stairs last summer and it's unknown when he can return to football.
Smith joins the Ravens with an even longer list of concerns. Baltimore is a classy organization which will do all it can to help Smith, but the Ravens can only do so much. Most of the responsibility is on Smith to take ownership for his actions and mature as a person.
Whether Smith turns out to be the next Asomugha or Talib in Baltimore remains to be seen. But the talented rookie has a golden opportunity in front of him to contribute right away for a potential Super Bowl contender.