Stacking Torrey Smith up with other rookie receivers

November 21, 2011|By Matt Vensel

Ravens wide receiver Torrey Smith isn’t just blowing by defenders. He’s leaving fellow rookies in the dust, too.

Smith established new career highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (165) in Sunday’s 31-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The second-round draft pick surpassed Mark Clayton for the franchise mark in rookie receiving yards (590), and he still has six games left to put the record further out of reach for the next guy.

And with Cincinnati’s A.J. Green sidelined on Sunday with a bad knee -- and Atlanta’s Julio Jones sitting out, too, against Tennessee -- Smith is now second in receiving yards among rookie receivers, trailing Green by just 45 yards. As we have seen a few times this season, Smith can make up that difference with a single reception.

On Sunday, Smith scored the game-sealing touchdown, his fifth of the season -- second to Green, who has six.

"We all knew it was time for us to get seven,” Smith said of his 38-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. “It was great timing on our part, great protection by the offensive line and a great throw by Joe [Flacco]."

He didn’t give himself props for blowing the top off of the coverage, but that part was kind of important, too.

We all knew about Smith’s big-play ability at Maryland when the Ravens drafted him in April, but it is stunning to see him make this big of a difference so quickly. He didn’t catch a pass in the first two games. But when he was plugged into the starting lineup in Week 3 after Lee Evans was shut down, Smith hit the ground running.

He had five catches for 152 yards and three touchdowns in his first start. He had 84 receiving yards in the win over the Houston Texans. He had five grabs for 71 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the Week 9 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. And on Sunday, he had four receptions that racked up more than 20 yards.

“I am able to get open fast and separate, and that's pretty much credit to [receivers coach Jim] Hostler,” Smith said. “He has been on me a lot, and I can see a development in myself, which gives me confidence.”

Smith is now in the top 30 in the NFL in receiving yards and has 94 fewer than teammate Anquan Boldin. But let’s stack him up against the six other receivers who were selected in the first two rounds of the 2011 draft.

A.J. Green, fourth overall, Bengals: Green and Andy Dalton have been a strong 1-2 punch for the Bengals, and had Green played Sunday, Dalton might have thrown for 500 yards. Green has 41 catches for 635 yards.

Julio Jones, sixth overall, Falcons: Atlanta traded a boatload of picks to trade up for Jones, who has benefitted from playing with Roddy White. He has 30 catches for 498 yards and two TDs, but has missed three games.

Jonathan Baldwin, 26th overall, Chiefs: Baldwin, the player the Chiefs swooped into select after the Ravens- Bears trade fiasco, missed the first five games of 2011. He has eight catches for 123 yards and a score.

Titus Young, 44th overall, Lions. The fourth or fifth option in Detroit’s high-octane passing attack, Young, who was a star at Boise State, has 28 catches for 353 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season.

Torrey Smith, 58th overall, Ravens: The only rookie to have Pacman Jones drag him down by his dreads.

Greg Little, 59th, Browns: With 42 catches for 438 yards, Little has been Cleveland’s best receiver this season -- which isn’t saying much. After Sunday, he leads all rookies in receptions, but he has yet to score a touchdown.

Randall Cobb, 64th, Packers: Cobb is buried on depth chart of the Packers, who boast five quality wideouts, including Cobb. He has 15 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown. He has scored on a pair of returns, too.

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