When Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith lasted through the first round of last month’s NFL draft without hearing his named called, he didn’t freak out. For Smith, considered to be a fringe first-round prospect by many draft analysts, it didn’t matter when he was selected; it was which team selected him.
“The goal for a lot of people is to get picked as high as you are. To me, I feel like the second round is a high pick, so I can’t complain,” Smith said. “The biggest part for me is that I’m in the right situation.”
And for the fleet-footed receiver, that right situation was in Baltimore.
“[The Ravens] didn’t think I would be there at [pick No. 58],” Smith said Monday after finishing up a workout in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “But in all honestly, once I realized I was going in the second round somewhere, that was the place I wanted to be. I was hoping they traded up or I fell to them, so either way, I would be where I wanted to be. They told me I need to come in ready to play.”
Smith is ready, alright, but he is stuck playing limbo like the rest of his peers. He is champing at the bit to get out on the practice field and start learning the Ravens offense. But the NFL lockout, which has no end in sight, is keeping Smith and other Ravens rookies out of the team’s practice facility. He has a playbook thanks to Anquan Boldin, but he wants a more hands-on education.
“I compare it to someone giving you a science book,” he said. “You can read all day, but it doesn’t mean too much. You don’t actually get it until you do it yourself. I’m going to need reps to get it down.”
The six-foot-two speedster said that former coach Ralph Friedgen ran a similar offense when Smith starred at Maryland, catching 152 passes for 2,218 yards and 19 touchdowns in his three years in College Park. He said the Terps used a lot of the same formations and hot reads, “so it’s not foreign by any means.”
Smith will get a crash course in the Baltimore offense next week when more than 20 Ravens players hold three unofficial workouts at Towson University. The workouts were organized by Derrick Mason, and Smith will be scribbling down mental notes while watching the veteran wide receiver do his thing.
“That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come here,” Smith said. “To be able to learn from Anquan and Mason, two of the better route runners in the league, that’s something from a selfish standpoint that is going to help me become the best player that I can be.”
One of the knocks on Smith coming out of Maryland was his route-running. His critics said he can just run flys, posts and other downfield routes. He respectfully disagrees with that assessment -- “I’m not raw by any means” -- though he concedes that it is an aspect of his game that he can and will refine.
Still, his blazing, sub-4.4 speed is hard to ignore. He blew the doors off of defensive backs at the college level, and was electric in the return game. The Ravens are looking for playmakers -- and Smith should be one.
Sure, the Ravens don’t have a great record when it comes to developing receivers, but the organization believes that stability at quarterback will help that trend get bucked. Smith is looking forward to developing a rapport with Joe Flacco, whom he called “one of the better quarterbacks in the league.”
“He’s been winning ever since he set foot in the league and obviously he had a great team behind him,” the 22-year-old receiver said. “I feel like he’s a great leader and he’s going to continue to grow and grow every year. Luckily for me, I can grow by learning from some of the better players in the league.”
After next week’s workouts, Smith will be back to playing the waiting game.
Other than the fact that he gets stopped in public more often, he said his life hasn’t changed all that much since the Ravens called his name. He hasn’t bought a luxurious condo or a whole fleet of sports cars. “I don’t have a job and I don’t have any money because of the lockout,” he said. He continues to spend his downtime the way he always has: heading to the movies or a taking his fishing reel out for a quick spin.
Whenever the lockout finally ends, Smith will be ready to play – just like the Ravens have asked.
“They drafted me for a reason,” he said. “So it’s up for me to prove that they made the right choice.”