Ravens compare cornerbacks to pitchers in baseball

Baltimore Ravens assistant general manager Eric DeCosta explained why the signing of cornerback Jimmy Smith to an extension last week doesn't change the team's draft plans.

"It's like pitchers in baseball, you can have as many as you want," DeCosta told WBAL Radio. "But you better have more than that because they're going to get injured and break down."

That point was underscored last season, when the lack of cornerback depth derailed the Ravens' championship run. Baltimore's top two cornerbacks -- Jimmy Smith and Lardarius Webb -- combined to miss 11 games last season and five cornerbacks ended up on injured reserve. When the Ravens allowed 367 yards passing and three touchdowns to Tom Brady in the playoffs, they were down to starting Rashaan Melvin, who was out of the league for five weeks that season.

The Ravens have been linked to cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Marcus Peters in the first round, and they could take LSU's Jalen Collins or Utah's Eric Rowe in the second round.

"We understand the importance of the position," DeCosta said. "With the passing game as such right now around the league and teams throwing for more and more yards, it's tough for defenses with all of the rules changes. It magnifies the importance of the cornerback position. It's something we feel really strongly about."

When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012, they began the season with four quality cornerbacks in Webb, Smith, Cary Williams and Corey Graham. That depth allowed the Ravens to withstand the season-ending injury to Webb and helped eliminate any void in the secondary.

Baltimore brings back both starters in Smith and Webb this year, but there is a major dropoff to the likes of Melvin, Asa Jackson and Chris Greenwood. Let's not forget that the Ravens allowed the most passing yards in their 19-year existence last season.

"So, we saw last year New England had success, their defense really improved because they had good corners," DeCosta said. "We got through the season and played well. Our guys did as well as we could given the circumstances with all of the injuries. But it's a priority to keep that position strong."