Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2008 – Round 1 #18 – Baltimore Ravens – QB Joe Flacco (via Houston Texans)

NFL Draft 2008 Logo The Baltimore Ravens moved up and grabbed QB Joe Flacco of Delaware, which is much higher than he was expected to go.

Scouts, Inc.: 29th

(6’6″, 236, 4.86)

Strengths: Tall enough to scan the field from within the pocket, he has excellent field vision and generally finds the open man given enough time. Has a strong arm, can fit the ball into tight spaces can make all the throws. Shows a good over-the-top release and can get rid of the ball quickly. Shows excellent pocket presence, possesses adequate athletic ability and instinctively sidesteps the rush while keeping his eyes downfield in order to find the open receiver. Is accurate, knows how to change velocities and can lead receivers when throwing underneath. Though lacks ideal elusiveness and isn’t very explosive possesses good top-end speed for size and flashes the ability to pick up yards with feet when nothing is available downfield. Shows good poise, is a leader on the field and doesn’t get rattled in pressure.

Weaknesses: Played in a shotgun heavy system at Delaware. Struggled with quarterback-center exchange early in week of Senior Bowl practice. Footwork is inconsistent on drops, needs to learn to read defensive coverage while dropping and can take too long to get set. Puts too much faith in arm strength at times and doesn’t always take what the defense gives him. Locks onto receivers too much and throws into coverage at times. Played at a small school and there are concerns about ability to make jump to the NFL level.

Overall: Flacco attended Pitt his first two seasons (2003- 04), where he was redshirted in ’03 and played in just three games as a backup in ’04. He joined Delaware in August 2005, but he didn’t see any action that fall. He started all 11 games in 2006, completing 264 passes on 417 attempts (63.3 percent) for 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. As a senior, he played and started in 15 games, passing for 331 completions on 521 attempts for 4,263 yards, 23 touchdowns and only five interceptions for a 144.91 passer rating. Flacco also scored four rushing TDs. Although he started his collegiate career at Pittsburgh, the bulk of Flacco’s production came at Delaware against a lower level of competition. So there are questions about his ability to adjust to the speed and complexities of NFL defenses. He also lacks experience working under center, so he has much to learn when it comes to his footwork and reading a defense while dropping. However, there’s no question he has the natural ability to make the leap. Flacco shares a lot of the same qualities with Ben Roethlisberger. He is deceptively mobile, throws well on the run and has arguably the strongest arm of any signal caller in the 2008 class. Also, of the six quarterbacks at this year’s Senior Bowl, Flacco showed the most improvement from the beginning to the end of the week. It was important for the small school product to prove he can hang with the big boys and Flacco did just that. Don’t be surprised if he comes off the 2008 draft board in the second-to-third round range.

Rick Gosselin: 37th

Mel Kiper: 24th

Flacco is supposed to have the tools necessary to star in the NFL. I’m just not sure why trade up this high to get him.

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