Georgia's Smith falls to Ravens in Round 3

Team had running back ranked among top 20

Nfl Draft

April 27, 2003|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Eschewing need, the Ravens feel they landed top-rated quality instead by selecting Georgia running back Musa Smith in the third round of yesterday's NFL draft.

Smith led the Bulldogs with 1,324 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 5.1 yards a carry last season. While the Ravens do not expect him to compete with starter Jamal Lewis, Smith should challenge backup Chester Taylor to be the third-down back.

The Ravens said they had Smith, 6 feet 1, 232 pounds, ranked among their top 20 players.

"He reminds us a lot of Jamal Lewis - does not quite have Jamal's speed but similar type running styles," Eastern college supervisor Terry McDonough said.

"We didn't think he would be there, but when he was there, we were very excited."

Entering the draft, running back did not appear to be a high priority for the Ravens. Lewis came back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament to rush for 1,327 yards and six touchdowns last season. Taylor played in all 16 games and totaled 251 yards combined rushing and receiving.

Despite needs at receiver and defensive line, the team felt Smith's value was too good to pass up. The Ravens also plan on using Smith on special teams.

"He's got excellent explosiveness," running backs coach Matt Simon said. "He's been very productive as a receiver out of the backfield, so he brings quality to all parts of his game. He elevated Georgia's football team as a player and a competitor, and you can see that in his performance."

Smith, who came out as a junior, was the third running back selected behind Miami's Willis McGahee and Penn State's Larry Johnson. Most mock drafts had Smith going in the second round, but there were not any backs selected there.

The Ravens said Smith, who may have slipped because of a lack of breakaway speed, ran a 4.45 40-yard dash in a private workout.

"I was waiting all day, starting to get nervous, but this is great," Smith said. "My agent told me they had me rated the No. 1 back.

"I feel real good right now. Competition is nothing. I've always liked Jamal's style, and it's going to be great working with him."

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