Torrey Smith defends new teammate Jimmy Smith

Wide receiver says cornerback shouldn't be defined by his past struggles

April 30, 2011|By Jamison Hensley and Ken Murray, The Baltimore Sun

It didn't take long during Saturday's introductory news conference to see that the Ravens' top two draft picks in 2011 share more of a connection than both having the birth name James Smith.

After Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith answered two questions about character issues, Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith stepped in unprompted to defend the Ravens' first-round pick.

"I've had the opportunity to get know Jimmy myself over the process," said Torrey, a second-round pick who shares the same agent [Drew Rosenhaus] as Jimmy Smith and shared the same room during their pre-draft visit to the Ravens.

"He's a great guy. The way the media tries to portray him, that's not him. He's a great guy. He's down to earth. The things are in the past. I feel like people should focus more so on what he's about to do from this day forward."

Jimmy Smith's red flags were a reported three failed drug tests and two arrests for possession of alcohol as a minor, which is a major reason why the cornerback fell to the Ravens near the bottom of the first round.

"I want people to know that I don't have any character issues; I made bad decisions when I was a young kid just like most Americans," Jimmy Smith said. "I'm not going to come in here and try to make this organization look bad. These two gentlemen (general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh) are putting their necks on the line for me, so I'm going to make sure I do whatever I can to make sure they look good at all times as well as me and my whole family."

Taylor's a quarterback

Newsome said Tyrod Taylor, the Ravens' sixth-round pick, was evaluated as a quarterback and was drafted as a quarterback. Because Taylor is just a little over 6-feet and because his playing style at Virginia Tech was more reminiscent of Michael Vick than Joe Flacco, there was pre-draft speculation that he might be converted to wide receiver.

Not so, Newsome said.

"He brings an added dimension of being a terrific athlete," said Newsome, who cited the prevalence of NFL quarterbacks "who can get out of the pocket and hurt people."

Taylor expected to be drafted earlier, but took his drop to the sixth round in stride.

"Of course I didn't want to fall this low," he said, "but I would rather fall to a lower round and get in a better situation than anything."

Brown pulling for Kindle

A year after the Ravens took pass rushing linebacker Sergio Kindle in the second round, they went back to Texas to get a cornerback in the fifth round. As it turns out, Chykie (pronounced SHOCK-ee) Brown was a roommate of Sergio's in Austin.

"I knew Sergio since my freshman year," Brown said. "He was my roommate for two years. … I just hope he comes back. I hope the old Sergio I know gets his head all straight and just comes back and is the Sergio that you all thought he would be. God knows he's a great player …"

Kindle missed all last season after he fractured his skull in a fall down two flights of steps shortly after he was drafted.

Brown is a 5-11 press corner who had only two interceptions in his college career.

Still looking for pass rushers

The Ravens used their second pick in the fifth round to select defensive end Pernell McPhee of Mississippi State, who got a late start in football. He played only one year of high school football — after two years of basketball — in Pahokee, Fla., and then didn't qualify for a scholarship to Southern Mississippi.

McPhee, 6-3 and 280 pounds, rolled up 32.5 sacks in two seasons at Itawamba (Miss.) Community College. In Starkville, Miss., he had only seven in two years for the Bulldogs. He started all 25 games at Mississippi State, though, and was a team captain.

Newsome said the Ravens would be "very seriously" looking for more pass rushers when the league's labor situation clears and he is permitted to talk to free agents.

End Zone

The brothers Harbaugh were close to making a trade of fourth-round draft picks on Saturday, but it didn't pan out. "Apparently in our minds, they wanted too much," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "And in their minds, we wanted too much." Harbaugh said he communicated with Jim Harbaugh, the new San Francisco 49ers coach, during a break in the drafting to discuss different players. … Because Jimmy Smith arrived in Baltimore Thursday night, he was able to pick up a playbook around rules of the lockout. He fit in the time frame when the lockout was officially off. Torrey Smith, who came to the complex on Saturday, was not able to receive a playbook. … New defensive backs coach Teryl Austin tore his Achilles tendon last week and will have surgery next Friday. He was the second member of the team to suffer an Achilles injury this month, joining director of player personnel Eric DeCosta.

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