Much of the focus this offseason for the Baltimore Ravens has been revamping their 17th ranked defense from a year ago and Baltimore has done a spectacular job at doing that, but the one player who will need to take it upon himself to start showing his promise is CB Jimmy Smith.
The 2011 first round draft pick of the Ravens has been one of the few first rounders in recent memory to not pan out for Baltimore. To be fair, Smith will be entering just his third year, so it may be too early to say he is a bust, but the time is now for Smith to play like a first round draft choice.
Baltimore watched free agent Cary Williams walk this year, leaving the number two spot at corner open to competition. Many feel that Corey Graham, who really burst onto the scene last year for Baltimore, has the inside track to that second spot. Graham was a key piece on the Ravens 2012 Super Bowl Champion defense and was a pleasant surprise to many Ravens’ fans.
Smith, who was plagued by a sports hernia surgery last season, will be coming into training camp 100% healthy and will attempt to snag that number two corner spot. During his short two year career thus far, Smith has 54 tackles and two interceptions, both of his interceptions came in 2011.
The number two spot behind Lardarius Webb is up for grabs, but even if Graham solidifies himself as the number two guy, Smith is still going to be extremely vital to the success of the Ravens defense in 2013.
Nowadays, it is hard to find many plays during the course of a football game where the opposing defense does not have at least three cornerbacks on the field with the high flying offenses that now exist in the game. Smith, along with Chykie Brown, will be on the field for a high percentage of plays on the defensive side of the ball and will need to show opponents that they are not the cornerbacks that can be easily beaten.
Another key thing to remember for 2013, is how much better the Baltimore pass rush is projected to be with their several acquisitions this offseason, so the cornerback play is going to be even more important as they should have several opportunities to force turnovers.
Lastly, the Baltimore safety position is going to be brand new and likely include Matt Elam, a rookie who was drafted in the first round of this year’s NFL draft, so the experience of the cornerbacks of the Ravens is going to play a huge role, especially early in the season while Michael Huff and Elam learn and adapt to the Baltimore defensive scheme.
Again, it is too early to say that Smith has been a bust, but one thing is for certain, the Ravens will need him to play like a first round draft choice this season for this Baltimore defense.
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