OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Years from now, the Baltimore Ravens might have a good laugh about the craziness they endured before taking Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith in the first round of the NFL draft.
On Thursday night, however, the Ravens were in panic mode as the clock expired on their turn to make the 26th overall pick.
General manager Ozzie Newsome thought he had a trade with the Chicago Bears after getting confirmation from the league. But the Bears didn’t follow through, and the Ravens were told to make their selection or drop back to 27th.
While coach John Harbaugh was on the phone with Smith, Newsome desperately tried to make his pick. Time ran out, and Kansas City was placed on the clock.
Fortunately for the Ravens, the Chiefs took wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin at No. 26, paving the way for Baltimore to get the player they wanted.
“In the end, we felt like he was the best pick for us,” director of personnel Eric DeCosta said. “He makes us a lot better. He tackles well, he’s got great coverage skills, he’s a big kid, he matches up well against the receivers in our decisions.”
Smith supposedly dropped to late in the first round because he had a positive marijuana test while at Colorado. But the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder is a strong cover corner and should improve a defense that is not deep at the position.
“I’m not disappointed. I feel like I was destined to go to the Ravens,” Smith said in a conference call. “The mistakes I made were in past, a long time ago.”
In meeting with the Ravens before the draft, Smith made a very positive impression.
“We brought him in, we put him through a process, even more so than we do some of the other players,” Newsome said. “We came away feeling that he would be able to come here and continue to be the type of player and person he’s been the last couple of years.”
Smith was the third cornerback taken in the first round. Patrick Peterson of LSU went to Arizona at No. 5 and Prince Amukamara of Nebraska was selected 19th by the New York Giants.
At Colorado, Smith had three interceptions over four seasons, deflected 18 passes and had 163 tackles.
“This guy is a special player,” Harbaugh said. “He’s exactly the type of corner that we’re looking for. He fits our defense. We all spent a great amount of time with him. We think he’s got a good heart, we think he’s very committed to being a great football player and we’re going to do everything we can to help him be that.”
The Ravens knew for a weeks that Smith would be a good fit, but when it came time to make the pick, Baltimore nearly blew it. After the trade fell through and the Chiefs were on the clock, the Ravens could very well have lost the chance to take their coveted corner.
“There was a potential for us to lose it, yes,” Newsome acknowledged. “But we got the player, and we’re just happy to have him.”
Newsome said more than one team approached the Ravens about a trade, but the Bears were the club that offered the best deal. But Chicago couldn’t get confirmation from the NFL, the trade never happened, and Newsome was happy to get hold of Smith.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)