I’m sure the question of how Jimmy Smith will pan out as a professional has been asked multiple times since the Ravens drafted him back in April. And even though it is yet to be answered, at least we have a few glimpses of live footage, albeit preseason, that have given us something to work with. Like any rookie, he has struggled at times, but has looked good at times as well. There’s no doubt this guy has the most raw talent of any young cornerback in the NFL, which will shine through immediately and hide some mistakes he may make as a result of being inexperienced at the professional level.
That being said, there is still quite a learning curve for him as it pertains to understanding certain defensive plays and schemes. Both were evident in the Ravens most recent game against the Redskins in a few plays . Smith made an excellent play in the end zone against Santana Moss, using his speed and awareness to break up a potential touchdown catch. But a few plays later, Smith blew the coverage and followed Jabar Gaffney to the flat instead marking Moss, who was already behind him catching a touchdown pass from Rex Grossman. Smith immediately threw his arms up, either recognizing he screwed up or complaining that Ed Reed should’ve been there. I’m sure someone eventually told the rookie it was his fault.
But that’s what the preseason is for – to get out as many kinks as you can before the start of the regular season. Smith is going to have a few issues early on, but that’s life as a rookie. It’s nothing to be overly concerned with. He is a smart enough football player to be able to adjust to an NFL-style defense. He will definitely get his chance to show his talent throughout the season, but as of now, it’s not certain if he will be doing that as a starter or a backup. I would have to imagine he will be starting at some point this season, maybe even as early as the opener against the Steelers.
Most of this hinges on the health of Domonique Foxworth, though. Foxworth made his first appearance in the second preseason game against the Chiefs after tearing his ACL on the eve of training camp last season. This is a tough injury to come back from and could prevent him from being a starter for the entire season. So if the Ravens feel he’s not healthy enough, or good enough for that matter, to be the full-time starter, at least they have Smith in their back pocket.
Like I said, it may take a few games for Smith to get into the swing of things, but once he does, it’s going to be bad news for opposing receievers. At 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, he has a near perfect physical stature and with his talent, has the potential to be a game-changer, which is something the Ravens haven’t had at cornerback since Chris McAlister was in his prime. Once the regular season starts and Smith gets some games under his belt, we’ll have a better gauge on just how much he can help this team. But I have a feeling he’s going to be an impact player whatever way you look at it.
Submitted by Steve Giles