Is Jimmy Smith’s replacement on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster?


Oct 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) celebrates after intercepting the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the trade deadline having come and gone, the Baltimore Ravens have made no move to replace injured cornerback Jimmy Smith, who could miss well over a month. Smith, the Ravens’ best corner and possibly their most indispensable player, will need to be replaced somehow, and right now, nobody quite knows how the Ravens will do that.

What if, and bear with me here, Jimmy Smith’s replacement is on the roster? And no, I’m not talking about Chykie Brown, who has already proven he can’t handle significant playing time.

Let’s start with the obvious: Lardarius Webb and Dominique Franks will pretty much be set as the top-two cornerbacks from now until Smith returns.

That means the Ravens are looking for a nickel corner, and possible a dime corner as well. The options: Matt Elam, Terrence Brooks and Anthony Levine.

Elam has proven to lack ball skills in man coverage, but he can stick with opposing receivers well enough. Another plus: Playing Elam at corner keeps him from playing deep safety.

Brooks, one horrendous play at Cincinnati aside, has been the Ravens steadiest deep safety. He and Will Hill are the only players with the range and instincts to handle playing single-high safety, though Hill is a pure safety and not a corner. Playing Brooks as a nickel corner would keep him from filling the role the Ravens most need him to fill.

Finally, there is Anthony Levine, a young guy who deserves a chance to show what he can do. Levine has played a total of five reps defensively all season, but he flashed really nice versatility in the preseason.

Levine’s game is characterized by speed and physicality, traits that would serve him well in acclimating to a new role. Though listed as a safety, Levine has practiced at cornerback and played some corner in the preseason, so the role wouldn’t even be that new for him.

There is one final option on the practice squad: Tramain Jacobs. Jacobs was a bright spot for the Ravens in preseason, showing natural coverage ability and great athleticism. The Ravens have already played one undrafted rookie for significant reps this year in James Hurst, so why not another? It’s not like there are better options.

If the Ravens really liked the options out there in free agency, they would have brought someone in already. And they still might. Asante Samuel wasn’t that bad in Atlanta last year, and even Dunta Robinson wasn’t that bad in Kansas City last year. The problems with those guys are many, though. They have the egos of former starters (and arguably stars), they are on the downsides of their careers and they would have to learn a new scheme in Baltimore.

Jacobs and Levine don’t have those issues. They are bright young players with upside who have been with the Ravens all season. The Ravens need to at least give them a try before going after a free agent to replace Jimmy Smith.