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NFL Draft Grade: Baltimore Ravens

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With the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft in the books, let's take a look at how the Baltimore Ravens did with their selection of CB Jimmy Smith(Colorado) with what was supposed to be the 26th overall pick, but ened up being the 27th pick instead.

The Ravens thought they had a trading partner in the Chicago Bears, which would have brought Baltimore the 29th overall pick as well as the Bears' 4th round pick, in exchange for the Ravens' 26th pick. However, at the last minute, while Baltimore was on the phone with the NFL awaiting Chicago's confirmation, the Bears backed off and never contacted the league.

Reportedly, the Bears have apologized to the Ravens and it appears both teams got the guy they wanted in the first place. However, there was that uncomfortable lull in the draft when time seemed to stand still and the Kansas City Chiefs jumped ahead of the Ravens to make their pick. Had they taken Jimmy Smith and this information become known, it would have been an incredibly embarrassing situation for a team that has a great draft reputation.

Jimmy Smith was ranked as the third best cornerback in the draft, behind Patrick Peterson (LSU) and Prince Amukamara (Nebraska). Peterson was selected 5th overall by the Arizona Cardinals and Amukamara surprisingly dropped to the New York Giants at #19. His size and speed make him one of the bigger corners in the league but his off-the-field character concerns dropped him to the Ravens. Some mock drafts had Smith going in the mid-late teens, but the run on quarterbacks early in the first round let him drift back to where the Ravens were picking.

Baltimore could have gone in so many other directions with this pick. They need help on both the offensive and defensive line, as well as wide receiver. They pass over offensive tackles Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin) and Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), as well as defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple) and Cameron Heyward(Ohio State). All of those guys would have been upgrades over what we currently have but the team went for the player they targeted when Smithspent hours with the Front Office and coaching staff in Owings Mills.

The true grade of a draft pick is obviously not determined once the pickis made. His body of work on the playing field will write the grade in ink, although right now, I'll pencil in a grade of a "B" for Jimmy Smith. The gaff of the slip from 26th to 27th is no big issue in the final outcome as the team got the guy they wanted and the only effect might be a bit less money the team may give him as he is slotted lower in the round now. The letter probably would not have changed if it were any of the aforementioned others, but had a higher-rated talent such as DE Cameron Jordan (California) or Amukamara slipped to the Ravens, I might have upped it to an "A."