OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The success of the Baltimore Ravens’ 2011 draft will ultimately be determined by the play of two exceptional athletes with the same ordinary name.
Baltimore addressed several needs during the three-day draft, yet the most notable holes were filled by cornerback Jimmy Smith and wide receiver Torrey Smith.
The Ravens introduced their two top picks Saturday, and it quickly became clear that the similarity between the two players runs even deeper than the fact that they have identical surnames and share the same agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
“My first name is James, and his is Jimmy,” Torrey Smith said.
To which Jimmy Smith said, “My first name is James.”
“There, so we’ve got that in common, too,” Torrey said. “Technically, we’re both James Smith.”
Both will counted on to make an immediate impact. Jimmy Smith, drafted in the first round with the 27th overall pick, is a 6-foot-2 shutdown corner who was a standout with Colorado.
Torrey Smith, who starred at Maryland before being selected 58th overall in the second round, provides the downfield threat the Ravens have been missing for years.
“We are a better organization today,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “We are a better football team today because of these two young men.”
Director of player personnel Eric DeCosta, who tore his Achilles’ tendon earlier this month, said, “Once we got the Smith boys, I didn’t have to take any more medication.”
Smith and Smith. They won’t work in tandem because one plays defense and the other is an offensive threat, but they might be forever linked because they went 1-2 in Baltimore’s 2011 draft.
“These two guys are going to be integral in what we’re trying to do as a football team,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They’re not just the type of players we like, but they are the type of players that fit us, the type of players we need. They have good hearts, they play hard, the work hard, they come from good families.”
Jimmy Smith, however, had a positive drug test in 2007 and two arrests for possession of alcohol as a minor.
“Most of the mistakes I made, or the bad decisions I made, were when I was 18, 19 years old,” Jimmy Smith said. “I want people to know that I don’t have any character issues.”
As soon as the sentence was complete, Torrey Smith said, “I’ve had the opportunity to know Jimmy myself, getting to know him over the (draft) process, and he’s a great guy. These things are in the past, so I feel like people should focus more on what he’s about to do from this day forward.”
Isn’t that what the draft is all about anyway? As soon as a player goes pro, his college stats and off-field exploits become irrelevant.
That said, it was impossible for the Ravens to ignore what Smith did at Maryland: 152 catches, 2,215 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns in only 38 games.
Smith and fourth-round draft pick Tandon Doss of Indiana, provide depth and youth to a receiving corps that currently relies upon 37-year-old Derrick Mason and 30-year-old Anquan Boldin.
Doss had 154 catches with the Hoosiers, fourth-most in team history, and scored 13 touchdowns. He caught 63 passes last season despite missing the opener with a sports hernia that never really went away.
Doss also returned kickoffs and punts, took snaps in the wildcat formation and ran on reverses.
“He was their go-to guy. He was the guy they got the ball every way they could,” Harbaugh said.
With Torrey Smith and Doss in the fold, the happiest person on the Ravens was probably quarterback Joe Flacco, who now has a variety of targets with a wide range of talents. Plus, Baltimore fortified its offensive line by taking tackle Jah Reid of Central Florida.
Other selections were: Texas cornerback Chykie Brown and Mississippi State defensive end Pernell McPhee in the fifth round; Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the sixth round; and running back Anthony Allen of Georgia Tech in the final round.
“It fell the right way,” DeCosta said. “This is a big draft for us. I’m excited about what we were able to accomplish.”
Brown had two career interceptions, but his strength at Texas was sealing the outside. He had four sacks and nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Taylor might get a shot at sticking because last year’s backup, Marc Bulger, is an unrestricted free agent and is expected to leave soon after the NFL labor situation is resolved.
“I believe I can do it all. I believe I’m the most dynamic quarterback in the draft,” Taylor declared.
The Ravens can only hope their memory of this draft is about who they took rather than a trade attempt that went awry. Baltimore was supposed to pick 26th on Thursday night, but a deal with Chicago fell apart when Bears GM Jerry Angelo neglected to phone the league to receive confirmation.
While the Ravens were waiting, they lost their turn and scrambled to take Jimmy Smith at 27.
It all worked out. At least, that’s what the Ravens were saying Saturday night.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)