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Lessons Learned From Drafting Torrey Smith


The Ravens don't have the most sterling draft record at wide receiver.

They struck gold two years ago, however, when they snagged Torrey Smith in the second round.

The Ravens took lessons from that experience, and may put them to use in this year's draft as wide receiver is one of the team's needs with the departure of Anquan Boldin.

"I think what we learned is really if you're drafting a receiver, draft a receiver who is tough, competitive and has a tremendous work ethic," Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta told

"Torrey Smith, in my mind, what makes him special is his personality, his makeup, his work ethic, his demeanor, his drive."

DeCosta said that evaluators are often seduced by a wide receiver's 40-yard dash time, vertical jump or highlight-reel catches in college. They put a lot of stock in their pre-draft workouts because they are skill players, in which speed and athleticism stand out.

"All of that is really important, but I think personality at that position is critical too," DeCosta said. "I think we learned that with Torrey because he is such a special person and he does have such a great work ethic and drive and all that. He's made himself into a fine player."

It's not the case in Baltimore, but wide receivers have a reputation as being the divas on a roster, needy of attention and particularly the ball. That can lead to problems.

Wide receiver is also one of the most difficult positions to transition at the NFL level. Suddenly, a player that was accustomed to running by cornerbacks or easily getting open in college is faced with a much more difficult challenge in the pros. The technique needed at the position dramatically escalates.

Thus, a player like Smith who is dedicated to honing his craft and who can bounce back from difficult stretches is crucial. Smith went through it in his rookie season, but finished with 50 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. He had 49 grabs for 855 yards and eight scores last year.

The Ravens have drafted six wide receivers in the first three rounds in team history. They are Patrick Johnson (1998, 2nd round), Travis Taylor (2000, 1st round), Devard Darling (2004, 3rd round), Mark Clayton (2005, 1st round), Yamon Figurs (2007, 3rd round) and Smith.

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