By Tom E. Curran
Always good. Never great. It's been more than a decade since the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl. It's been their bad luck to be in a conference with the Steelers, Patriots and Colts because - if they were hanging in the NFC - there's little doubt they'd have gone to the final game more about three times since that 2000 emasculation of the Giants. But it's always something with Baltimore - usually, a lack of outside explosiveness on offense or a lack of consistency at corner. With three picks in 2011, they tried to address those spots. In the first round, the Ravens went after Colorado corner Jimmy Smith. He's only 6-2, 211 pounds and runs a 4.4. Smith is one of those players whose draft stock fell over character concerns. He had a positive drug test in 2007 and got pinched twice for being a minor in possession of alcohol while at Colorado. If that's the extent of his missteps, you'd have to figure his character isn't much of a concern. He may be as good a pure cover man as anyone in the draft. Next, they took Torrey Smith from Maryland. He's 6-1, 204 and is a flier. He's also got outstanding character and work ethic. The downside is that he's not a polished route-runner and receiver. And the downside to that is that - no matter how fast you are or how hard you work - if you're not where you're supposed to be ready to catch, you're not much help to your quarterback. Skipping over third round tackle Jah Reid from Central Florida (6-2, 327), let's look at Tandon Doss, a fourth-rounder who may be an absolute steal. He had sports hernia issues that required surgery and missed working at the Combine as a result. And he's not a burner. But he's 6-2, 200 and he has a knack for getting open and short-area quickness. One other really outstanding choice Baltimore made was Pernell McPhee from Mississippi State. A 6-3, 278-pound defensive end who has great pass-rush potential and could bulk up some and become a 3-4 defensive end on first and second-down for the Ravens. Another great character guy who works hard. SUMMARY: The Ravens have rolled together a string of really good drafts and this one could be one of their best. They were able to hit need areas and get great value at the spots as well - Jimmy Smith, Doss and McPhee being the prime examples of that.