2012 Players To Watch: Jimmy Smith

BALTIMORE - NOVEMBER 20: Jimmy Smith #22 of the Baltimore Ravens returns an interception against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Bengals 31-24. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

Ravens second year corner back Jimmy Smith is everything you could ever want in a corner. He is big, fast , plays the ball well in the air and on top of that he is a play-maker. The Ravens knew this when they used a first round pick on him last year. Now they are ready for some return on their investment.

In 2011 Smith was injured on the first play of he first game of the year (on special teams) against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He made his way back on the field gradually but his talent was evident. Smith has excellent cover skills and makes it very hard for his man to get open. There were a few times that he blew a coverage and the Ravens got burned for touchdowns but this can be chalked up to a rookie going through growing pains.

As the season went on Smith saw more and more playing time and as he did the better he got. He finished the season with two interceptions and 20 tackles. One of his interceptions was a huge play in the AFC Championship game against New England.

When the Ravens drafted Jimmy Smith they had every intention of him being their number one corner eventually. However, with the emergence of Lardarius Webb as a Pro Bowl caliber player in 2011, Smith now has the benefit of time to grow into his role and having an accomplished veteran at his position to work with and learn from.

Last season Smith was ranked third on the depth chart behind Webb and first year starter Cary Williams. Both played very well, leading the Ravens to a top five passing defense so Smith never got the chance to take anyone's job. This season may be a different story though. With Webb carrying the label of the teams best corner I doubt Smith will be taking any of his playing time. Cary Williams however needs to watch his back. There will be plenty of playing time to go around for the first three on the depth chart though, now that the NFL is becoming so pass happy. So weather it's Williams or Smith that carries the number two mantle, both will be integral parts of the defense this year.

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