The NFL is a quarterback driven league with a shortage of quality drivers. The quest for a “franchise signal caller” hoards most of the talk this time of year. Despite their abundance of needs, the Ravens don’t have this issue…at least not yet. While they don’t have the questions of say the 49ers, Bears or Browns at QB, questions do remain. Who’s the backup next season? Veteran QB vs Draft prospect? And how soon do you start thinking about the future?
Let’s take a look at the roster as it currently stands.
Unrestricted free agents
QB of the future?
Entering his 10th season, Joe Flacco is still as polarizing as ever. Is he elite? Does he suck? Somewhere in between? While the Ravens are obviously happy that they’re not in the market seeking a starter, they’ve made it clear they need more from Flacco. His decision making and fundamentals have to be better going forward. By the same token, he needs consistent and complementary weapons and a stable offensive line. When you look at his contract breakdown below, unless things go completely off the rails here, he’s probably the QB here through 2019. Hopefully being a year further removed from the ACL injury and the continuity of keeping Mornhinweg in place solidifies his play.
The backup QB position however needs to be addressed. Dustin Vaughan is under contract but likely isn’t the answer. Ryan Mallett has never really shown he’s someone you can count on to make sound decisions consistently on the field. A veteran with experience in the west coast offense would seem like the most likely route but cap concerns will obviously limit how much they can spend there. You also have to wonder how much compensatory picks will factor into this equation. We know how much the Ravens love those, and rightfully so.
Drafting a QB is an option as well but with all the roster needs they don’t have the luxury to spend a day 1 or day 2 pick on the position. The hope would be that they could find a later round pick that they could have manage the game if Flacco went down again. Maybe they catch lightning in a bottle and this player is also QB of the future material. If not, that quest will just have to wait in all likelihood. The future for John Harbaugh’s staff is uncertain, so it’s safe to say they won’t be pushing for the heir apparent.
Free agent options
Shaun Hill: Hill would provide plenty of experience in the west coast offense. While lacking the arm to push the ball downfield consistently, he’d provide a steady hand if Flacco were to go down by getting the ball out on time and making smart decisions.
Geno Smith: Geno has always shown flashes of more than competent play but has been plagued by inconsistency. A change of scenery and improved decision making could transform him into an upper echelon backup QB. Marty Mornhinweg was his OC during his rookie year so he’d be a great resource in determining whether he’d be worth the flier.
Jerod Evans, QB Virginia Tech: His size and mobility stand out. The offense he plays in makes him a tougher evaluation but you see a live arm, you see touch and you see the ability to deliver the ball on the move. He has the tendency to rush some throws and his lack of weight transfer saps his accuracy at times, but those are teachable concerns. He would offer a bit of a unique opportunity given that he was a surprise draft entry. How much higher would he have gone in 2018? Evans has QB of the future upside.
Projection: 5th round
Davis Webb, QB Cal: Webb looks the part as a #2 QB with upside to maybe start down the line with work. He’s got good size, more than adequate athleticism and he doesn’t mind staying in a crowded pocket. Webb has a pretty release but like most young QB’s, his accuracy and zip wanes due to inconsistent fundamentals.
Projection: 5th round
Joshua Dobbs, QB Tennessee: Dobbs has the arm to make most throws. He’s got nimble feet which show up when he’s pressured or making people miss in the open field. He’d be useful on the scout team and as a gadget player. Like any QB coming out of that spread option system he’s going to need a lot of refining but he’d be a worthwhile project at this stage of the draft.
Projection: 7th round