Perhaps the best way to grade this year's Ravens draft is to look at the smile on the face of Eric DeCosta, who walked into the team's news conference on crutches after tearing his Achilles' tendon earlier this month.
"Once we got the Smith boys [Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith]," the Ravens' director of player personnel said, "I didn't have to take any more pain medication."
This year's Ravens draft received an average grade of 'B' from the national media, but the selection of the top three picks couldn't have gone any smoother, in the team's estimation.
In the first round — after a botched trade with the Chicago Bears — the Ravens drafted a player among their top 15 prospects (Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith) with the 27th overall pick. Their good fortune continued in the second round, when they landed a player (Maryland wide receiver Torrey Smith) who received a first-round grade from the Ravens.
The Ravens showed their most aggression in the third round, trading up five spots to grab Central Florida offensive tackle Jah Reid.
"It fell the right way," DeCosta said. "I think a couple days ago I said to Ozzie [Newsome, general manager], 'Could you imagine if we were able to get Jimmy Smith, Torrey Smith and Jah Reid?' He just looked at me and said, 'Ah yeah, that'd be a great day.'"
The only adlibs for the Ravens apparently came on the last day of the draft.
One of the quarterbacks that the Ravens were eyeing, Iowa's Ricky Stanzi, was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fifth round. So, the Ravens went with Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor in the sixth round.
Also in the fifth round, one of the Ravens' likely targets (Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter) was selected by the Steelers at No. 162, two picks before the Ravens' compensatory picks (Nos. 164 and 165). The Ravens then drafted Mississippi State defensive end Pernell McPhee, who had seven sacks in two seasons at Mississippi State after having 33 in two years of junior college.
"This is a big draft for us," DeCosta said. "I'm excited about what we were able to accomplish, and I just can't wait to get started up at some point."
Here's a look at how the national media graded the Ravens:
Mel Kiper, ESPN: B-plus. "Last year, the Ravens got a lot of good value after trading down, but didn't get much out of the class in 2010 for multiple reasons. This year, they again got a lot of good value, but also hit on some players that could fill holes a little earlier. The big name is Jimmy Smith, who has the talent to be drafted much earlier, but could use the guidance that a player like Ray Lewis can provide."
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: B-plus. 'They needed help at corner and receiver and they made picks at both. If Jimmy Smith and Torrey Smith work out, this will be a heck of a draft. Ozzie Newsome knows what he's doing."
Adam Caplan, FoxSports.com: B. "The Ravens addressed their needs at cornerback and wide receiver, as expected. But Jimmy Smith's off-the-field history makes his selection a very risky one."
Clifton Brown, Sporting News: B-plus. "Jimmy Smith should step in as a starting corner, and wide receivers Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss give Joe Flacco speed receivers."
Kerry J. Byrne, SI.com: B-plus. "Just a good, solid draft for a team with only a few glaring holes. Baltimore is institutionally defined by its defense, and top pick CB Jimmy Smith can only help a unit that, though it ranked No. 5 in defensive passer rating last year, has never been quite as stout as it was when Pro Bowler Chris McAlister was on the roster (No. 1 in DPR in 2008, his last year)."
Jarrett Bell, USA Today: C. "Despite getting the short end of would-be trade with Chicago, the Ravens still landed targeted CB Jimmy Smith, whose potential top-10 talent was downgraded due to character questions. Torrey Smith is latest brought in to address WR speed deficit, and should help as kick returner."
Jason Cole, Yahoo Sports: C-plus. "The Ravens don't get blame for the snafu that caused them to miss their first-round pick the first time through. That said, the selection of Jimmy Smith with their first pick is an odd move for a Ravens team that usually doesn't deal with character problems that early in the draft. Smith's selection speaks to the desperation the Ravens face at cornerback."
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