Leading up to the April 28-30 NFL draft, ESPNNewYork.com is providing profiles of prospects being considered by the Jets with the 30th overall pick. Previously, UCLA S Rahim Moore, Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward, UCLA LB Akeem Ayers and Georgia LB Justin Houston were featured.
Under the Microscope: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
• Smith is a first-round talent with fifth-round baggage. If he slips to 30, it will present the Jets with a tough, multi-pronged decision. Conventional wisdom says they wouldn't take a cornerback two years in a row, but Rex Ryan isn't a conventional coach. He needs three or four starting-caliber cornerbacks to run his defensive scheme, and he knows that Antonio Cromartie is a free agent and that Kyle Wilson, last year's No. 1, is a question mark.
• Let's get to the red flags. At Colorado, Smith was arrested twice for under-age drinking and tested positive in 2007 for marijuana, according to the Denver Post. Other media outlets have reported that Smith failed four drug tests in college. (This is bringing back memories of the Warren Sapp situation in 1995, not a good memory for Jets fans.) Smith has a "posse of hangers-on, an inflated opinion of himself and thinks he already has arrived," according to Pro Football Weekly.
• Smith was questioned by reporters at the scouting combine about this transgressions. On the positive drug test, he said, "I was young and dumb, like any other college student at the time." On the drinking, he said, "There were small things that happened when I was younger. It wasn't like, 'Oh, my God, he's fighting or he's drunk.' I'm not worried about it."
• According to various reports, Smith has done a credible job during the pre-draft process of convincing teams that his problems are in the past, and that he's looking to leave his "posse" behind and start fresh in a new city. Yet NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock warns, "I wouldn't touch him in the first round." The Eagles (No. 23 overall) and Ravens (No. 26) are thought to be interested in Smith.
• Smith is rated the 28th-best prospect by Scouts, Inc., the third-best cornerback.
• The dude can play. At 6-2, 211, Smith has a Cromartie-like frame. He has everything to be a fantastic press corner -- speed (4.4s), length and loose hips. He started the last two seasons at right cornerback and was rarely tested. He faced Georgia WR A.J. Green, arguably the best in the draft, and only two balls were thrown to him -- both incompletions.
• Smith on Smith: "I'm a shutdown corner." He said he has better ball skills than Nnamdi Asomugha. A little humility might be in order, don't you think?
• Greg Cosell, a talent evaluator for the NFL Network, said Smith's "attitude, loose hips and smooth transitions" remind him of Darrelle Revis. He called Smith "the most confident press-man corner in this draft."
• Smith might have some Revis traits, but no one ever questioned Revis' work ethic or his off-the-field character. This would be a risk-reward pick for the Jets, who aren't afraid to take chances. Ryan believes he can coach anyone, and he'd be confident his veteran leaders could keep Smith in line, but it's buyer beware. If the top pass rushers and nose tackles are gone, and Smith still is on the board, it'll be late-night drama on Day 1 of the draft.