Ravens draft Colorado CB Jimmy Smith

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens drafted talented, enigmatic Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith, gambling on the most physically imposing defensive back since Chris McAlister was on their roster. Smith arrives with some baggage, though.

He reportedly flunked three drug tests at Colorado, including one codeine-related incident, had two arrests for underage drinking offenses, had two abortions paid for by parents of women he impregnated and was arrested for third-degree assault.

After visiting with Smith at their training complex, working him out at Colorado and talking to him at the NFL scouting combine, the Ravens gained a comfort level with the All-Big 12 cornerback.

"We've done so much homework, and what I like about Jimmy is he's been forthright with everything that's happened to him," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He had a lot of situations. He didn't try to hide anything. He put it all out there for the whole world to see. He's doing to have to deal with that. This guy, I think he's a good person at heart. He's a heck of a football player. We've got a great locker room for him. He makes our team better."

The Ravens wound up with Smith 27th overall, one spot after their original selection due to a botched trade attempt with the Chicago Bears where the clock ran out and Baltimore was passed by the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Ravens were going to receive the Bears' 29th overall pick and fourth-round pick in exchange for the 26th spot. The Ravens are angry about what happened and would like to be compensated by the NFL with the Bears' fourth-rounder. It's unclear if that will happen, though.

The Ravens said they held up their end of the bargain by calling the league office in time to formally consummate the trade, but the Bears were apparently too slow.

After the Chiefs selected Pitt wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, the Ravens landed their original target in Smith. "There was an agreement between the team and I," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "The other team never got confirmation with the league. I was asked to make the pick. We made the pick." Bears general manager Jerry Angelo acknowledged that it was his fault that the pick didn't get done.

It was an embarrassing gaffe from the NFC North club.

"We had a disconnect and there might be something said about it because of not communicating with the league and proper protocol and that was my fault," Angelo told Chicago reporters. "I called Baltimore and I did apologize and told them that it was our fault. We just ran out of time. It worked out. We got our player, they got their player and we moved on. Whatever you hear, Baltimore did everything the right way. "We didn't take advantage of the time we had to do it, according to what we know is the protocol in the league. We dropped the ball. I dropped the ball. I made an apology because an apology needed to be made. We certainly didn't do anything to circumvent the spirit of the rules by any nature. What's been done can't be undone." The Ravens had targeted Smith if he got within striking distance. The Ravens were relieved that they didn't lose Smith.

"There was a potential for us to lose it, yes," Newsome said. "We got the player, and we're just happy to have him." Often compared to former McAlister due to his size and penchant for trouble, Smith has also been characterized as the second coming of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib.

Smith and the Ravens have emphasized that his history of trouble is primarily from when he was a freshman and a sophomore in college.

"It was just basically going in and being honest, putting everything on the table and letting them know that I was about business," Smith said. "The things that I did are old mistakes and bad decisions that I made when I was younger and immature. It's in the past now, and I'm just trying to be the best player and person off the field for the Ravens that I can possibly be." Smith declined to elaborate on the specifics of what he did.

Although projected as a top 15 player in terms of talent, Smith wasn't disappointed to go where he did. He felt like it was the right place for him.

"I'm not disappointed. I feel like I was destined to go to the Ravens," Smith said. "The mistakes I made were in the past, a long time ago. It's all past decisions and bad mistakes. I'm looking from here on out to be the best player and person on and off the field that I can be. It's been over two years."

The Ravens put Smith through a rigorous round of questioning. That included meetings with Newsome, Harbaugh and other team officials.

"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 ran the 40-yard dash between 4.37 and 4.42 seconds at the NFL scouting combine where he also bench pressed 225 pounds 24 times and registered a 36-inch vertical leap and a 10-2 broad jump. Smith also visited the Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns, Raiders, New York Jets, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles. "In the end, we felt like he was the best pick for us," director of player 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."

The Ravens passed on pass rushers such as Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward and other top prospects to draft Smith. "They're all hard decisions, but it was a hard decision," DeCosta said. "Sure, there were a lot of talented players still on the board. In the end, we felt like Jimmy was the best fit for us from a need perspective, certainly from a talented perspective. I think he's a unique talent, and he makes us a lot better as a football player."

Smith intercepted three passes in four season with 18 pass deflections and 163 tackles. He was the third cornerback drafted after Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara.

"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."

An All-Big 12 selection and an honorable-mention All-American, Smith was only thrown at roughly 20 times in man coverage last season. He allowed one touchdown, had no interceptions and five pass deflections.

He was generally avoided by quarterbacks and finished with 183 career tackles and 16 pass deflections with three career interceptions. He only allowed 11 completions in man coverage over his junior and senior seasons. "They're going to get the best cornerback in the draft," Smith said. "Defensively, I bring a lot to the table: size, speed, ability to play like a 5-11 corner being 6-2. They need corners my size because of how big the receivers are getting these days. I can do everything a small corner can do."

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