The Baltimore Ravens have historically fared well in the draft and this years class is no exception. The 2011 class of rookies has been a major part of the teams success this season.
The Ravens first round draft pick, corner back Jimmy Smith, started off the year with an injury but has slowly played his way into the starting line up in the secondary. Smith is a big physical back that can present problems for opposing receivers that the Ravens haven't been able to replicate since the days of Chris McAlister. He is a physical specimen and shows himself to be worth every bit of the first round pick the team used to get him.
The teams second round draft pick Torrey Smith has tied the Ravens rookie record for touchdowns this year with seven. Torrey is changing the way teams play Baltimore on defense and can out run any corner in the league. He has been a major key to the success of the Ravens offense this season. Smith has also shown to be the most durable of the teams receivers this season. Torrey even spent the last two games of the season as the Ravens number one receiver.
On the season Smith has 50 catches for 841 yards with seven touchdowns.
The Ravens struck gold in the fifth round of the draft in defensive end Pernell McPhee. McPhee was known for his high motor in college but was looked at as mostly a project player by most NFL draft pundits. However, his talent was apparent from day one to the coaching staff in Baltimore and it earned him some playing time on third downs as a pass rushing specialist early in the season. McPhee made the most of his opportunities and worked his way onto the field more and more as the season went on. He ended the regular season with six sacks and a forced fumble to go along with 23 tackles. This kid has a very bright future here in Baltimore.
Having played their way into being integral parts of this team, these young men will be counted on to continue their high level of play in the playoffs. They have now become players that this team relies on to be who they are and play their game. It will help that Baltimore gets to play at home for at least this week.
Once again the Ravens front office has done an amazing job of getting high quality out of the draft. it is things like this that separates the Ravens from other less stable franchises. It makes the upcoming off-season that much more exciting knowing that they probably already know in what ways they will improve this already great team next season.