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Late For Work 5/20: Steve Smith's 'Clown' Draft Report


Steve Smith's 'Clown' Draft Report

Remember not to put too much stock in immediate draft analysis.

And be especially careful of bashing a player. That stuff tends to stick.

Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith broke out a write-up from Sporting News from when he was drafted in the third round in 2001. Smith was a 5-foot-9 prospect out of Utah, and reporters apparently didn't like the pick.

"He isn't ready to contribute at receiver, and it's doubtful he will wrestle the kickoff-return chores from Michael Bates," the write-up said. "The Panthers spent a third-round pick on a punt returner."

Now 13 years, 182 games, 836 catches, 12,197 receiving yards and five Pro Bowls later, Smith has the last laugh.

Oh, and by the way, he did take those kick return duties. He returned 56 kicks as a rookie for a staggering 25.6 yard average and two touchdowns. Booyah.

"They will Crown U or Clown U. Too bad I didn't believe them. #Sportingnews after I was drafted... eat crow #agent89," he tweeted.


What Harbs Misses Most About Lewis, Reed

They've been gone for more than a year. So with a little bit more perspective, what does Head Coach John Harbaugh miss more about linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed?

Is it their plays on the field or their leadership off it?

Harbaugh answered that question during a lengthy interview with ESPN Boise’s Jonny Mallory and former San Francisco 49ers Coach Michael Christianson.

"You never mind when guys make great plays, and those guys made great plays throughout," Harbaugh said, citing Lewis' game-ending tackle for a loss in 2009 to win in San Diego and Reed's pick-six in the 2008 playoffs in Miami.

"[But] I think the other part is even the bigger thing – the leadership, the wisdom, the passion, the locker room conversations. They have guys that as a coach I don't necessarily even know about, that they're steering guys in the right direction. Other guys have to move into those roles, but those two guys are pretty unique."

The Ravens have had leaders step up over the past year.

On the defensive side, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Lardarius Webb have taken the reigns. On offense, it's quarterback Joe Flacco, wide receiver Torrey Smith, tackle Eugene Monroe, running back Ray Rice and others.

But will anybody ever be as good as Lewis and Reed? Only time will tell.

Rackley Signing Opens More Questions

The Ravens released three players yesterday and signed three more. The biggest name of those signings is guard Will Rackley.

Rackley is a three-year pro and former third-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 6-foot-3, 310-pound Lehigh product, has started 25 of 26 career games for the Jaguars. He was released in March.

So what are the Ravens' plans for Rackley? His signing opened up more questions about Baltimore's offensive line.

"Does his addition make it more plausible to move current starting left guard Kelechi Osemele over to right tackle?" The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec asked.

Harbaugh has said that his preference is to keep Osemele at left guard, but he's not locked in there. Osemele started all 16 regular season games at right tackle in 2012 before switching to left guard for the Super Bowl playoff run. He played left guard last season before a back injury landed him on injured reserve.

Rackley was one of the worst-graded offensive guards in the NFL in both 2011 and 2013, according to Pro Football Focus. He missed the entire 2012 season with an ankle injury.

But Zrebiec remembered that Rackley has had his moments, and was especially effective when blocking Haloti Ngata during the Ravens-Jaguars "Monday Night Football" matchup in 2011.

"The reality is signing Rackley is a no-risk move," Zrebiec wrote. "I'm sure he's getting the veteran minimum or close to that.

"If he' struggling, you cut him in training camp. If he looks like he's making some strides under Juan Castillo's tutelage, you keep him around and at the very least, you have an experienced backup for Marshal Yanda and Osemele. And if he proves through the various minicamps and the early stages of training camp that he's deserving of a chance to start, then the Ravens have the flexibility to move Osemele out to right tackle."

Hensley: Billick Should Be In Ring Of Honor

With the announcement that tight end Todd Heap is going into the Ravens Ring of Honor this year, the debate on who else belongs (or doesn't belong) has been sparked.

ESPN's Jamison Hensley added a new name to the list – former Head Coach Brian Billick.

"The Ravens need to do the right thing and put Billick's name along the facade of M&T Bank Stadium along with the likes of Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and Matt Stover," Hensley wrote. "Billick turned the Ravens from a losing franchise into a championship one. The Ravens don't win the first Super Bowl in their history in 2000 without Billick changing the entire mindset of that locker room."

Billick arrived in January 1999 after being a highly-regarded offensive coordinator in Minnesota. Before he got to Baltimore, the Ravens were 16-31-1 in the franchise's first three seasons under Head Coach Ted Marchibroda. They never finished higher than fourth in the AFC Central.

In nine seasons with Billick, the Ravens reached the playoffs four times, won their first Super Bowl title in the 2000 season and captured the AFC North twice (2003 and 2006).

"Critics will say Billick wasn't a great coach in terms of X's and O's," Hensley wrote. "Where Billick excelled was as a master motivator and psychologist.

"His greatest achievement was keeping the team together in 2000 when the defense was shutting out teams and the offense failed to reach the end zone in five straight games. Not many second-year coaches could have controlled such a delicate situation like Billick."

Quick Hits

  • A few former Ravens are on the All-Unemployed Team, including fullback Vonta Leach. [Pro Football Talk]
  • Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro has come a long way since being ruled academically ineligible for his sophomore season at Bruton High School. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Undrafted cornerback Sammy Seamster![](/team/roster/sammy-seamster/2046bcaf-466b-4c3f-a769-06e8058a0276/ "Sammy Seamster") stood out from the undrafted cornerbacks, and more notes from Zrebiec on Ravens rookie camp. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • Harbaugh said running back Bernard Pierce will be limited in practice, but sounds like progress is being made. @BPierce_30: "Grinded today out. Feels good to be able to participate more with the team again. Slowly but surely getting better." [Twitter]
  • Just one Ravens player made the Pro Football Focus top 101 players from last season and it was outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil (No. 69 overall).
  • Look who else was at Preakness ... "Chanda & @OJBrigance enjoyed the @PreaknessStakes experience & even met Bob Baffert." [Twitter/@MDjockeyclub]
  • @aqshipley: My lady @cammiejfitness just surprised me w the most amazing experience for my bday at @FoodMarketBmore w chef chad! It was such an awesome time learning from and cooking a full 4 course meal of seared tuna appetizer risotto w seared diver scallops then rack of lamb with mint.
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