Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith returns an interception while… (US Presswire )
The Ravens took perhaps their biggest gamble ever in the first round, selecting talented yet flawed cornerback Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick in the NFL draft Thursday.
The Ravens entered the draft with the 26th pick, but they slid to No. 27 when they failed to submit their selection in time and the Kansas City Chiefs jumped ahead of them.
Smith brings much-needed size, speed and shutdown cornerback ability to the 21st-ranked pass defense. He also brings more red flags than career interceptions, the major reason why a top-15 talent slid to the bottom of the first round.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Smith flunked three drug tests at Colorado, and he informed one team that one was for misusing codeine. He also told teams about two alcohol-related arrests and an arrest for third-degree assault in a restaurant.
In a poll this month by the Journal Sentinel, 11 of 24 NFL personnel men said they wouldn't draft Smith in the first two rounds.
"He's as athletically gifted as [Nnamdi] Asomugha," an NFC personnel director told the Journal Sentinel. "He's got all the ability in the world. He also could be a supreme punk."
Cornerback was one of the Ravens' top priorities in this draft. One starter (Chris Carr) is an unrestricted free agent, and the other (Josh Wilson) is a restricted one. Domonique Foxworth, a starter in 2009, is coming off knee surgery that sidelined him all of last season, and nickel back Lardarius Webb is a season removed from the same operation.
All four of those corners are under 6 feet tall, and none weighs more than 192 pounds. Adding size would allow the Ravens to play more press coverage and match up better against physical receivers.
At 6 feet 2, 211 pounds, Smith is strong enough to line up against 6-3 rookie receiver A.J. Green, who was taken by the Cincinnati Bengals fourth overall. And Smith has excellent speed, which would allow him to hang with Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace.
The Ravens had Smith fall to them because the three teams interested in him went elsewhere. The Detroit Lions chose defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the 13th overall pick, the Philadelphia Eagles drafted offensive lineman Danny Watkins with the 23rd pick and the Seattle Seahawks selected offensive lineman James Carpenter with the 25th pick.