The Baltimore Ravens will have almost an entirely new secondary in 2013 compared to the unit they finished 2012 with. The starting safeties will be some combination of Michael Huff, rookie Matt Elam and James Ihedigbo. At corner the Ravens will start two of three players at the two outside, starting positions. The players that will compete for these spots are Corey Graham, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith, with possible honorable mention to Chykie Brown.
Graham, a former special teams stand out in Chicago, had a tremendous first season in Baltimore. With the early injury to star corner Lardarius Webb Corey saw plenty of time on defense and made the most of his opportunities. Most Ravens fans will forever remember Graham for his two huge interceptions of Peyton Manning in the divisional round of the playoffs against Denver. Without those plays the Ravens may never have reached the Super Bowl.
Lardarius Webb is coming off of his second major knee surgery in three years and needs to show that he can stay healthy for an entire season. If Webb isn't 100% by the time the season starts than Jimmy Smith will undoubtedly get the starting nod at one of the outside spots. However if Webb is able to go he will be the Ravens top corner and will lock down at least one spot.
However, some NFL analysts believe that Webb is better used in the slot where he can cover smaller, shifty slot receivers that are becoming more and more prevalent in the NFL. If the Ravens see it the same way then we could see a duo of Smith and Graham on the outside with Webb covering the slot guy or tight end depending on the opponent.
Some seem to think Smith is a bust at this point considering he was drafted in the first round. However, he missed the majority of his rookie season due to injury and has had to work his way back into the defensive rotation since then. Jimmy played very well towards the end of last season and you can see all the reasons the Ravens have been so high on him since they drafted him. He has all the tools you need to be an elite NFL corner. Smith is strong, tall, fast and has a very impressive wing span. Over his short NFL career he has had some unfortunate mental mistakes that have resulted in blown coverages but you have to expect that to happen to all players at some point. Corner is one of the toughest positions to play at an NFL level and hopefully he is just starting to get it.
What do you think? Is Jimmy Smith ready to be a starter in the NFL?