With some of our latest discussions about Jimmy Smith I have been thinking about what I don't like about him. Because I am pretty against picking a player like him at pick 13, and to a lesser degree Akeem Ayers falls into a similar category to me. But that is a different discussion. Akeem Ayers big red flag is mainly motivational issues, work ethic if you will where Jimmy Smiths issues are just plain ethics. However what really gets under my skin about Jimmy Smith is not his numerous infractions with the law, not his four positive drug tests, it is in fact him.
The way he carries himself, the way he talks, the way he acts, screams diva. He very well may be up there in talent with Patrick Peterson and he very well may be more talented than Prince Amukamara, but I have decided that I do not like Jimmy Smith the player. His self proclaimed greatness and self labeling as a "shutdown corner" not to mention his attitude that he is absolutely the best corner in this draft just grates on me.
It reminds me of Terrell Owens and Dion Sanders. Two players that also were extremely talented, hall of fame caliber player, that can't in Owens case, our could not in Sanders case, manage to stay on any given team long enough to be considered an icon to that team. Maybe I am just spoiled here in Detroit, growing up with guys like Steve Yzerman, Isiah Thomas, and Alan Trammell. Even the guys like Jack Morris or Kirk Gibson you knew it was about the money more than any kind of ego issues or enigma.
Perhaps on that last point I am being a bit harsh on Dion Sanders, since he seems to be a likable person and was never considered to be a detriment to a locker room, even though there is no doubt he is a diva. But even if I took him off the table, and just looked into the T. O. debacle that has influenced many a team, or perhaps his team mate from last year "the Ochocinco", there is no doubt that for all of their on field accolades and personal achievements that they have actually hurt the teams they played for as much, and in some cases more, than they have helped them.
The real issue is this, is a guy like this worth the risk to draft at pick 13? My answer is a resounding no. Not only does Jimmy Smith have the makeup to turn into a T. O. he has the shady run ins with the law to turn into an Adam Pacman Jones. Sure one could argue the greatness and the impact of players like Dion Sanders, T. O., and Pacman Jones in helping to elevate a team to playoff contention. However only one of those guys ever won a Super Bowl. That being Dion Sanders, he won two actually one with the 49ers and one with Dallas.
I would argue though that he was the final piece to the puzzle for those teams. He did not win Atlanta a Super Bowl. As great of a talent as Dion was, and I put him as probably the 2nd best corner back to ever play the game, behind Dick, Night Train, Lane, he still was not great enough to carry a team through a championship. One of the greatest corner backs to ever play the game, was only good enough to be a complimentary piece on teams that were already laden with talent.
If the Lions were already a playoff contender for several years running I might feel differently about him. Then we would have a strong enough locker room, enough swagger from the other players alone to likely keep him in check. However I do not feel the Lions are quite there yet. It would take a team that is right there on the cusp, a team that demands respect from Jimmy Smith the minute he walks into the building, to keep him in line. A team like the Jets would be a perfect fit for him. Not only will Rex Ryan tell him straight up that he can talk all he wants, once he walks the walk, but you would have Revis there to let him know that will be nothing but the 2nd best corner on the team unless he is absolutely great. In that scenario he will have no choice but to earn whatever playing time he gets. On the Lions he would be virtually handed the starting corner role based on lack of talented competition alone which will only inflate that ego and make it even harder to keep him in check.
On top of all that has been already said, Jimmy Smith needs to go to an organization who has an ownership and front office that is willing to handle him. One that is willing to basically babysit him and deal with any negative publicity that may come from when he screws up. Because it is more likely to be a when not an if. Just look at players taken last year like Perrish Cox, now facing 2 years to life in prison. Or you could look at Dez Bryant who is already in court and being sued over financial mismanagement. Or you could look at Aqib Talib down in Tampa Bay who is caught up in a tangled mess involving felony gun charges due to his family. While all of these guys have helped their teams tremendously on the field, there is no question that the ownership and front office has to have a certain stomach to deal with these issues. On top of that there is always the concern that jail and court time could keep them off the field, away from practice, away from the film room, or impact their training and or mental well being.
The Lions actually have a track record with this and a recent one. Last year there were two such troubled players that became available to the Lions. The aforementioned Adam Pacman Jones, whom the Lions stayed hands off, even with a huge need of a corner back. He likely would have been our best corner last year, or at the very least he would have been our clear number two corner back. He was also seemed to be genuinely remorseful over his past mistakes and showed signs that he finally had matured. Yet the Lions stayed hands off. We also had the situation with Albert Haynesworth becoming available. We know the Lions were engaged in trade talks with the Redskins, so there was at some point enough value in him to warrant the risk. What is perhaps more odd about this is the fact that the Lions had less of a need at defensive tackle, and more reason to believe that Haynesworth would continue to cause "incidents".
Sorting through all of this I know I would not draft Jimmy Smith at all. I just do not feel like the Lions are in a position to put Jimmy Smith in the position to be successful as a player, and more importantly as a person. However I am not so sure that the Lions will take the hands off approach they did to Pacman. While I cringe inwardly at the thought of him at pick 13 I am not so sure that the Lion feel the same way. While I tend to think that the Lions are smoke screening about him I can also see the Lions being desperate enough to fill a huge positional need, and overconfident enough in their own locker room and ability to manage him, to pull the trigger. I for one am hoping and praying for a player of significant talent, and clean of character concerns, to fall to the Lions, effectively making any concerns about Jimmy Smith I have moot.