Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Have the Ravens found a WR diamond in the rough?

During the 2008 NFL Draft the Ravens were on the clock in the second round with the seventh pick, the 38th overall. Some scouts liked a 6’6”, 220 pound wide receiver out of the University of Indiana. They were impressed by his range, speed and athleticism.

And the Ravens nearly made him their second round pick that year.

Instead, they traded back in the second round, giving up the 38th overall pick in exchange for Seattle’s second round pick (55th overall) and their third round pick (86th overall). The heavies in the Ravens’ draft room were scared off a bit by the Hoosier receiver’s character issues and as a result, Ray Rice and Tom Zbikowski became Ravens.

So who was this wide receiver?

He was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 41st overall pick and was eventually released after battling through two injury plagued seasons (knee), underperforming when called upon and still at least loosely clutching some off field baggage (handgun violation).

And he is now property of the Baltimore Ravens after signing a reserves/future deal back in January.

His name is James Hardy.

Hardy may never amount to anything but then again, he could. Clearly the risk reward favors the Ravens.

When discussing the deal with one Ravens’ source I was reminded of another wide receiver who possessed plus skills but unfortunately character issues as well. His team, the Dallas Cowboys selected him with the 36th overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, but Jerry Jones & Co. just couldn’t get comfortable with taking on more character red flags since their roster already included Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper, neither of which was ever mistaken for a choir boy.

The discarded receiver eventually got his act together and had an outstanding career while wearing the colors of the Jacksonville Jaguars for 13 seasons and hauling in 862 career passes for 12,287 yards and 67 touchdowns. Comparatively speaking, Hall of Famer Irvin posted 750 catches, 11,904 yards and 65 scores during his 12 year career.

Of course I’m describing Jimmy Smith.

While we aren’t suggesting that Hardy’s career will track closely with Smith’s, it does suggest that sometimes when given a second chance gifted athletes can rise from the rubble.

And for the Ravens, the opportunity cost seems worth the roll of the dice.


Harryos29 said...

James Hardy, didn't he just sign to play shortstop for the ORIOLES?
Just kidding: I do remember the deal when the RAVENS dialed back to get ZIBBY and Rice, but did not remember the player they passed up on. WOW! I think the Ravens are due for some good luck, after being knocked out of the Playoffs in Succsession by Pittsburgh (2008).then the COLTS (2009) then PITTSBURGH again (2010).
..Don't you think its time for lady-luck to smile on Baltimore?
I do!
...The odds of Hardy becoming another JIMMY SMITH are not good, but I remember Smith having 11 or 12 catches in a Jags game vs the Ravens, when Brunell was in his prime. Well.. a Fan can still dream can't he?

Ben said...

Wow Tony you just got me excited to see how this all plays out next season! I'm so excited to see how Hardy runs an end around in this offense!

Tony Lombardi said...


Thanks for the laugh. I guess if the Ravens find a replacement for Willis McGahee, he'll get the ball on a dive into a mass of humanity for no gain on the first play from scrimmage after he takes the field?

Ben said...

Shhhhhhhhhhh don't give away our strategy!! If those plays don't work Cam will just run them 20 times as opposed to 30 if they work once!