Rookies: Making Big Plays
How important is the draft and evaluating talent? Just take a look at the Ravens rookies this year, most have been positive. Three rookies had big plays in Sunday’s contest versus the Bengals.
DE Pernell McPhee (5th Round Pick) a crucial sack on fourth down to end the Bengals drive, giving Baltimore a win–a win which puts the team in first place at 7-3.
McPhee was a 5th round pick–Where was he hiding? Because he looks like he’s playing as if he should have been a top defensive end prospect. McPhee has complied 4 sacks. What makes McPhee effective is that he can line up inside versus the run or outside as a pass rusher. Initial burst at the line of scrimmage, strength and power a huge asset–all were overlooked by scouts.
WR Torrey Smith (2nd Rounder): He didn’t get high marks from analysts, he was considered raw and had inconsistent hands. However, he is probably the most improved rookie on the team this year. Sunday’s game: 6 receptions -165 yards, 1 TD. Look at Smith’s production because it has steadily improved this year, that is what you want to see from a rookie. Smith’s development is ahead of schedule.
Smith started out preseason dropping passes and having difficulty running routes. But, you can’t measure heart and determination. Smith bounced back, each game his receiving (holding on to the ball) improves. What has really elevated his game is his route running. True speed, Smith virtually flies past safeties. On shorter routes he is getting open. Not only is production a positive, but the crunch time plays; deep strike plays he’s hauled in and he’s been clutch for the most part.
CB Jimmy Smith (1st Round Pick): Big interception from rookie Jimmy Smith on Sunday, who anticipated a pass (jumped the route) from rookie Andy Dalton. Smith had the ball knocked out running back the interception. Yet, a critical play to help the offense. One negative, Smith got burned deep for a TD. As described by our editor Matt Jergensen after Sunday’s contest, “But the Double Safety Blitz call on third down left Jimmy Smith exposed for an easy touchdown and helped give Cincinnati much needed momentum. We as fans want to see continuous pressure from the defense – there is always risk involved.” Still he’s only played a handful of games. Smith needs more snaps, the injury (high ankle sprain) set him back a bit. The more he is in the line up the more he’ll make plays.