While the Ravens' cornerbacks put together a pretty solid 2010 season despite being without No. 1 corner Domonique Foxworth - who missed the entire campaign with a knee injury that came in training camp - there has always been one knock on this group: They need to grow a few inches.
Ever since Chris McAlister left town, the Ravens have had a clear need for a big, physical cornerback who can battle for jump balls and work out on an island against the top wide receivers in the league.
Jimmy Smith is now expected to be that guy.
Smith, selected last night with the 27th pick in the NFL draft, is 6-foot-2, 210 lbs., which dwarfs the corners who we've seen line up for the Ravens in the past couple years.
Take a look at the size of the four guys that were a part of the Ravens' cornerback rotation last year (and we'll toss Foxworth into the mix as well).
Domonique Foxworth: 5-foot-11, 180 lbs.
Chris Carr: 5-foot-10, 182 lbs.
Josh Wilson: 5-foot-9, 192 lbs.
Lardarius Webb: 5-foot-10, 182 lbs.
Fabian Washington: 5-foot-11, 175 lbs.
In case you didn't feel like doing the math, Smith has three-plus inches and 18-plus pounds on every one of those guys.
Add in good speed (he ran between a 4.37 and a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine), and you've got the makings of a prototypical cornerback.
"The size is a big plus (and) the speed is a big plus," head coach John Harbaugh said. "He doesn't move like a 6-2 man; he's rare that way. He's got special talents, and he plays real hard. He's a good tackler. He's very physical. He plays the ball well downfield. Those are all things you look for in a corner."
Smith's addition won't just help the cornerback corps; it will help the Ravens' pass rush, as well. The Colorado product's ability to run step-for-step with wide receivers could force quarterbacks to hang onto the ball longer, which should allow Terrell Suggs and the guys up front more time to get to the QB.
Add in the fact that teams in the AFC North present some tough matchups at the wide receiver position (Mike Wallace in Pittsburgh, and now A.J. Green in Cincinnati), and Smith could be counted on to defend some big-time playmakers for the next handful of years.
That's a challenge for which he seems ready.
"I have size, I can tackle, and I can cover well," Smith said on a conference call last night. "I think I bring a lot to a defense. If they scheme around me and try to lock me up on a man, I feel like I'm that guy who can lock up."
I'm sure that's music to Ravens fans' ears.