Ravens Select A Steal With Sliding Smith At 27

An Absolute Theft, A Highway Robbery For Baltimore

Here’s our scouting report on Smith:

Strengths: Very good size, ideal for the position. Shows a short and smooth backpedal with good bend and balanced technique in his pass drop. Very physical press cover corner. Has the light feet to bounce quickly into the route; no trouble with bump and run coverage. Consistently able to extend arms at the snap and get inside of the receiver, re-directing or slowing up his route timing.

Has the speed to run downfield with talented receivers; uses long arms to be disruptive on deeper throws and also when defending the shorter routes. Better quickness than I anticipated when sent on the corner blitz and uses length and size to be disruptive and close on the quarterback- doesn’t tip off his blitz. Good tackler, uses arms to wrap and bring down consistently. Wasn’t challenged by quarterbacks much, and consistently shut down his side of the field on one-on-one coverage. Throws his body around to make tackles. Doesn’t allow a bad play to affect his game, gets right back on the horse.

Needs Improvement: Played mostly man coverage. Aggressiveness works against him as he tends to bite down on initial move, losing leverage and leaving him susceptible to the big play at times. Recovery speed is adequate to good, but won’t be able to recover in time to always turn his head or get hands out in front of him at the next level. Has trouble with smaller, quicker receivers on an inside release. Doesn’t always play the run with the same intensity, picks and chooses when he wants to be involved. Will lose concentration or misjudge receivers release quickness from time to time, allowing receiver to get square on him in off coverage.

Bottom Line: Overall I was impressed with Smith’s ability as a 6’2 cover corner. He moves well for his size and can be a legitimate starting corner in the NFL. Most bigger cornerbacks have trouble flipping their hips and keeping their footwork sound in man coverage, especially when pressing the receiver, not so with Smith. Though Smith doesn’t show the easiest hips in his turn, they aren’t overly tight and his foot quickness and technique allows him to quickly get established in coverage.

He will need some work if asked to play in a zone dominant scheme as he wasn’t asked to do it as much at Colorado. He has good but not great downfield speed and seems to lose a step after about 25 yards, length allows him to stay in the play but he will still have trouble with the top end receivers. Smith has the ability to sneak into the first round if he impresses during workouts and is one of a few very talented cover corners in this draft class.

Russ’ Take: The Ravens know how to draft.  Ozzie Newsome is a mastermind.  What a pick for an already electrifying defense.  Smith is a flat-out athlete with outstanding ball skills.

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