2014 Player Profile: Jimmy Smith Was Worth the Wait

Posted on April 30, 2014 by Rob Michels


Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is entering his fourth season in the NFL and let's face it; it’s been an up and down career for the cornerback. Injuries and lack of fundamentals have attributed to his potential bust label after the Ravens drafted him 27th overall in 2011.

Coming out of the University of Colorado, Smith was viewed as a top talent in the draft. He fell to 27th because of off-field concerns. He reportedly failed three drug tests while in school and was charged with aggravated assault. With the “character concerns” label attached to him before the draft, it speaks to how much talent/potential Smith had by the Ravens taking a chance on him in the first round.  

Smith hasn’t rewarded Ravens fans as the shutdown corner many expected. He has played second fiddle to Ladarius Webb as the team’s number two corner for most of his career. In his first two seasons he lacked footwork and instincts to excel at the NFL level. He also didn’t play with the physicality he should have with his 6’2’’ 205 pound frame.

Entering 2013 the Ravens were expected Smith to finally emerge. Webb was recovering from an ACL injury and the defense faced crucial loses in the secondary in long time star Ed Reed and strong safety Bernard Pollard being replaced by rookie Matt Elam.

The first half of 2013 wasn’t pretty for Smith, however, something clicked in the second half of the year and he started to play smarter and more fluently. He started using his body more by pressing at the line of scrimmage.

In the second half, Smith faced five stud receivers in Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall, AJ Green, Josh Gordon and Antonio Brown. According to Pro Football Focus, when covered by Smith the five combined totaled four receptions for twenty six yards.  

 

Week

Receiver

Thrown At

Receptions

Yds

9

Josh Gordon

0

0

0

10

AJ Green

1

0

0

11

Brandon Marshall

5

2

16

11

Alshon Jeffery

1

1

8

13

Antonio Brown

2

1

2

 

Combined

9

4

26


Last season Ravens fans were finally seeing Jimmy Smith play up to his potential. 2014 is a huge year for Smith, nonetheless, consistency has not been a word used to describe the cornerback in his career. He really has played just a handful of games up to his potential. Are the Ravens willing to pay a corner with an injury history and a half season of quality play?

The Ravens exercised Smith’s team option for 2015 which is worth $6.898 million. If Smith can play like he did in the second half of the year he could be headed for a big pay day. If he falters the Ravens could have a big decision coming on the future of Smith.

It’s time for Smith to play each game like a true shutdown corner and earn the respect of the league. Ravens fans also need to start holding Jimmy Smith more accountable and view him as the shutdown corner he can be.

If Smith can emerge and play to his potential the Ravens defense could make major strides. It would allow the pass rush to excel and give Webb more responsibility in the slot where he is more comfortable. The Ravens also let nickel corner Corey Graham walk so untested backup Chykie Brown is listed as the third corner.

Webb was a fantastic number one corner for years but it’s time for Jimmy Smith to become the shutdown guy.  He’s made the necessary adjustments to his game and it’s time for his play to do the talking.

next up:

2014 NFL Draft By Position: Cornerback

April 30, 2014

Breaking down the best target for the Ravens in each round of the upcoming NFL Draft at cornerback

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