Street Talk - The latest street talk and Baltimore Ravens related News from the Russell Street Report Team.
Lombardi’s Way - A column from the 24×7 founder that focuses on the Ravens, the NFL, Baltimore, the world of sports or life’s inspirations.
Word on The Street - In the spirit of the CBS Sports Minute with Boomer Esiason, RSR brings you Word on The Street, a 90 second (or less) podcast on topics exclusively relating to the Baltimore Ravens.
Ravens Links - We’ll give you the best stories about the Ravens from around the web three times per week.
The Fanimal - If you are an animal about the Baltimore Ravens, then you are a Fanimal! Follow the Russell Street Report blog Fanimal Crackers!
The Edgar Awards - The Edgar Awards will range from the Maryland county that is home to the best Ravens fans to the best Ravens podcast; from the best collection of displaced fans to the best local craft brews that should be part of your next tailgating party.
The Road to RSR - Our writers explains their journeys as fans and how they came to write for our little corner of sports media.
OWINGS MILLS — From the bitter cold of Michigan, to the isolation of Utah, the heart of Texas and the fast-paced Bay Area, the Baltimore Ravens have been on a quest for a quarterback.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel scoured the country with one purpose on his mind: To find a worthy developmental quarterback to groom behind veteran Steve McNair.
Because of McNairâ€™s age and the fact that benched former first-round pick Kyle Boller is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent after this season, the Ravens are in the market for a quarterback that could potentially succeed McNair in the next year or two.
The defending AFC North champions are believed to be serious about possibly using their second-round pick at No. 61 overall on a quarterback. The Ravens don’t have a third-round pick and most of the top quarterbacks are expected to be gone by their pair of fourth-round compensatory selections at No. 134 and No. 137 overall.
That has prompted them to embark on a quarterback search that included attending multiple campus workouts and bringing in the following potential first-day passers in for official prospect visits: Stanfordâ€™s Trent Edwards, Michigan Stateâ€™s Drew Stanton, Houstonâ€™s Kevin Kolb and Brigham Youngâ€™s John Beck.
Baltimore also brought in two potential second-day targets in Ohio Stateâ€™s Troy Smith and Pittsburghâ€™s Tyler Palko.
â€œPeople around the league will say we are concentrating on the offensive line,â€ general manager Ozzie Newsome said. â€œWeâ€™ve spent as much time on the quarterback. We are very much looking at the quarterback position.â€
Edwards is a physically-gifted four-year starter whose evaluation is made more difficult by the beating he took behind an inadequate offensive line and incompletions caused by suspect receivers.
He broke his foot after seven games as a senior, finishing the season with 1,027 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. Just like John Elway, he couldnâ€™t turn Stanford into a winner even after going 27-0 at Los Gatos (Calif.) High. Scouts laud Edwards for his size at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, toughness and arm strength.
â€œHe got absolutely killed at Stanford because the pass protection was poor, but he has a lot of tools,â€ Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. â€œHe has a very strong arm and is very competitive, smart kid. Sometimes, he throws off his back foot or forces the football into coverage.
â€œThe question is can he overcome some of the bad habits heâ€™s developed having played on such a bad team. Can he overcome what heâ€™s dealt with and become a good player?â€
There are less questions about Beck, a former Eagle Scout who will be a 25-year old rookie after serving a two-year Mormon mission in Portugal after high school. Although Beck lacks ideal size and arm strength, he consistently makes sound decisions and has a quick release.
The Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year completed 69.3 percent of his throws last season for 3,886 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. As a junior, Beck racked up 3,709 yards and 27 touchdowns.
According to Beck, several teams he visited, including the Detroit Lions, told him that they expect him to be drafted in the second round.
â€œJohn Beck isnâ€™t the biggest or the best athlete with the best arm, but he gets rid of the football very quickly and heâ€™s very accurate,â€ DeCosta said.
Stanton is an imposing, fiery presence at 6-3, 226 pounds with 4.72 speed, but lost confidence and fundamentals as a senior and only passed for 1,807 yards with 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His decision-making has been criticized as shaky, but he has a nice over-the-top delivery.
â€œStanton is very mobile, an excellent runner whoâ€™s excellent outside the pocket,â€ DeCosta said. â€œHeâ€™s a tough guy who led the team in special-teams tackles as a freshman.â€
Named the Conference USA Player of the Year as a senior with 3,809 yards, 30 touchdowns and four interceptions, Kolb has been lauded for his intangibles and touch.
However, Kolb played almost exclusively in a shotgun offense with four to five wide receivers. A lack of background in an NFL offense and an occasional tendency to stare down his primary read could hurt his stock.
â€œHeâ€™s a great passer with a great arm who didnâ€™t play in the typical pro-style type of offense,â€ DeCosta said. â€œNot a lot of quarterbacks who have played in that system have necessarily flourished in the NFL. We think heâ€™s got leadership ability as an outgoing kid that other players would probably rally around in the huddle.â€
Whichever quarterback the Ravens draft, theyâ€™re likely to take a much more patient approach with him than they exercised with Boller.
Boller was starting against the Pittsburgh Steelers five months after Baltimore drafted him in the first round after trading the following year’s first-round pick to the New England Patriots. The former Cal-Berkeley star never seemed to recover from not being brought along slowly and was replaced after three inconsistent seasons.
Baltimore has struggled at drafting and developing first-day quarterbacks, including Boller and former third-round pick Chris Redman out of Louisville.
Now, theyâ€™re hoping to reverse that negative trend with no guarantees that they’ll get it right this time.
â€œYou can see quarterback after quarterback after quarterback that has all the parts, but it just doesnâ€™t quite mesh to make a productive quarterback,â€ Ravens coach Brian Billick said. â€œFor that reason, that ambiguity, that uncertainty, I think thatâ€™s where the history comes from. If youâ€™re talking the first round, probably the quarterback position is the one that has the biggest volatility in that regard.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland