Ravens add speed at WR

In dire need of a dangerous deep threat that defenses have to respect, the Baltimore Ravens landed a wide receiver that can kick on the afterburners. And the Ravens didn't have to venture far to acquire an outside presence with blistering speed. The Ravens drafted swift University of Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith in the second round Friday night with the 58th overall selection

Smith unofficially ran the 40-yard dash in 4.37 seconds at the NFL scouting combine. He should provide a field-stretching presence to work in tandem with veteran possession receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason. This is one receiver quarterback Joe Flacco shouldn't be able to overthrow.

"We play against other teams and a slip here, and it's a touchdown," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "And that's deflating. With everything we already have, we just added the 3-point shooter. At any point, the ball gets in his hands and Billy Cundiff is coming out to kick an extra point."

An elated Smith quickly put on a Ravens T-shirt that his mother, Monica Jenkins, held in her lap while praying that the AFC North franchise would draft her son.

"I did have a good feeling for the Ravens from the get-go," Smith said during a conference call from his home in Fredericksburg, Va. "The way I play kind of fit the way they do things up there. So, I thought it would be a fit. When I visited, they agreed. I knew it would be a great possibility of me going there.

"That's like the dream scenario for me. My mom talked about it. She said, ‘You're going to get drafted by the Ravens, watch.' She was saying that for like the past week. For that to actually happen is kind of a surreal feeling." The Ravens had a hunch that Smith might fall to them.

Director of college scouting Joe Hortiz predicted that the Ravens would draft Smith in the second round Friday morning during a conversation with coach John Harbaugh.

"I looked at him and I told him Torrey Smith would be there at No. 58," Hortiz said. "I was a skeptic," Harbaugh said. "I think my comment was, ‘There's no way.' I might have added a word in there, too. He fits us. He's our kind of guy. He's our kind of personality, but he's also the kind of player that we really want and we really need.

"I was so proud of this young man. My thought was, ‘We've got to find a way to make Torrey Smith a Raven.' This guy is what this organization is all about." Smith draws high marks for character, dealing with extreme adversity throughout his childhood. He's the oldest of seven children born to a single mother and is the first man in the family to earn a degree, graduating with a criminology diploma.

Former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen once said of Smith, "God created a perfect person."

Smith's mother was frequently a victim of domestic violence in her relationships with men. After a while, Smith could tell if someone was wrong for his mother.

"I'm like a psychic," Smith said. "I can sense a person's character from a mile away." Later, Jenkins got into a violent altercation with a female relative as she pleaded guilty to felony unlawful wounding and served time in a Virginia prison.

"It had its ups and downs," Smith said. "There were certain times when other kids would be able to go and have fun doing something, and I had responsibility, but that's something I would not take back. It definitely helped me a lot.

"Seeing her mistakes, I was able to go out and not make those mistakes myself as I got older. I knew what I had to do to stay focused on my goals as I got older."

At the combine, Smith said he wasn't aware that Harbaugh knew so much about him.

"That's really cool, I didn't even know the guy knew my name," Smith said. "It's something I hope a lot of people can learn from. I hope the story is getting out. I'm just honored. It's a blessing to be here. I've obviously went through a lot to be here and it helped me a lot more than it hurt me."

Newsome isn't exaggerating about the 6-foot, 205-pounder's physical qualities.

Smith caught 67 passes for 1,055 yards last season, setting a Terrapins record with a dozen touchdown catches.

For his career, Smith averaged 14.57 yards per reception. He caught 152 passes for 2,215 yards for 19 touchdowns.

He set a school record with 5,264 all-purpose yards. As a sophomore, he set the school record with 51 kickoff returns for 1,309 yards as he returned two kicks for touchdowns. Smith is known for his mean stiff-arm, and his ability to run after the catch and break tackles. Smith is strong enough to beat press coverage, bench pressing 225 pounds 19 times and having set school receiver records with a 355-pound power clean and a 550-pound squat. He's a willing blocker, and he averaged 24.25 yards per kickoff return with three for touchdowns.

"He's a great kid, he's an explosive playmaker," Hortiz said. "We got bigger and faster. He's a special kid and a special player. We expect big things from him."

Smith insisted that he's much more than just a fast downfield target, but is confident that he can beat cornerbacks and gain separation. "I think so," Smith said. "I feel I can contribute on special teams and as a receiver in general, not just a deep threat. I'm looking forward to learning from guys like Anquan and Mason and trying to take my game to the next level."

The primary drawbacks on Smith are the need to catch the football with his hands on a consistent basis and concentrate on always looking the ball in to secure the reception.

Rookie wide receivers rarely make an immediate contribution as it's one of the toughest positions to excel at early in the NFL. "I understand there's an adjustment with receivers," Smith said. "I feel like I'm ahead of the game mentally. At Maryland, we ran the pro style, we ran West Coast. So, I understand offense. I can pick up an offense quick as far as picking up the playbook."

The Ravens only had seven receptions of 40 yards or more last season and both were from Mason. As a team, they averaged only 11.8 yards per reception.

"When you add Torrey to the mix, as one of our scouts said, ‘He can peel the top off the defense," Newsome said. "He brings that added dimension to the passing game, and Joe is a deep thrower. Joe has the ability to throw the deep ball. He has the arm strength to do it. So, now we're giving Joe an additional weapon. You add this element to it that strikes fear.

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