Howard Eskin of WIP radio in Philadelphia, who patrols the sidelines (often in a mink coat) as part of the team’s radio broadcasts, knows Ravens head coach John Harbaugh from the time he spent as an assistant coach with the Eagles. And Eskin recently said in an interview with 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore that Harbaugh didn’t want to use his current team’s first-round draft pick on former Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith.
“You know those background checks they do?” Eskin told Ken Weinman and Vinny Cerrato, via BaltimoreSportsReport.com. “Man, it didn’t come up pretty. . . .
“I don’t think [Harbaugh] really wanted him, that’s why there was all that confusion at that pick.”
The confusion came from an effort by the Ravens to trade down a few spots with the Bears, to the point at which the clock expired and the Chiefs were able to take receiver Jon Baldwin before the Ravens could select Smith. It’s widely believed that the Ravens were hoping to take Smith at a lower spot; maybe the conventional wisdom isn’t all that wise after all.
Eskin said that he had not discussed the situation directly with Harbaugh, but it sounds as if Eskin has communicated with someone on the topic, possibly a certain head coach whose name rhymes with Dandy Feed.
“Smith had problems — he was struggling with the character issues, he really was,” Eskin said. “And once the Eagles got past their place in the draft, I think there was communication between John and the Eagles people to try to find out a little about this guy because they know that the Eagles did look at him and I think he had some real reservations with that.”
We’ve got a pipeline to Eskin, who used to hate us but has found a way to tolerate us, so we’ll find out if he has anything more to add to this one.
As to the Ravens, we assume that strong denials will be forthcoming. After all, now that they’ve picked Smith they’ve got to try to make it work, regardless of whether Harbaugh had misgivings on draft day.
UPDATE: Peter King of SI.com writes in response via Twitter that the notion Harbaugh didn’t want Smith is “[t]otally wrong.” Says King, “Jimmy Smith spent 2 hrs w/Harbaugh, alone, before the draft, and told people internally after the meeting he really liked the kid.”