OWINGS MILLS – Elusive on the football field as one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the draft, Tyrod Taylor has no intentions of playing wide receiver in the NFL.
The Atlantic Coast Conference Offensive Player of the Year and former Virginia Tech star doesn’t lack for confidence about his abilities under center.
“I believe I can do it all,” Taylor said after being drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens. “I believe I’m the most dynamic quarterback in the draft. I have the ability to move the pocket and keep the play alive, and I also have the ability to stay in the pocket and make every throw that they ask for. My style is kind of a mixture of all.
“I want to do whatever it takes to help the team and in the best situation. Most teams have talked to me as a quarterback. I’m evaluated as a quarterback. After talking to the Ravens’ coaching staff, they look at me as a quarterback and want to mentor me and mature me as a quarterback.”
Taylor owns the Virginia Tech records for total offense, passing yards, rushing yards and touchdowns for a quarterback , touchdown passes in a season and career wins, breaking several of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick’s college marks.
The former Hokies star isn’t coming to Baltimore to play wide receiver or running back. They drafted two wide receivers in Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss and Georgia Tech running back Anthony Allen.
“We drafted him as a quarterback, and he was evaluated as a quarterback,” general manager Ozzie Newsome said. “As far as him coming into our system, we feel like he has the skill sets to play the position and he also brings the added dimension of being a terrific athlete that can get out of the pocket and hurt people. He has the ability to do that also.”
Last season, Taylor passed for 24 touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 172 of 284 passes.
He draws high marks from speed and ability to escape pressure, rushing for 637 yards and five touchdowns last season.
Taylor immediately sparked comparisons to former Ravens backup quarterback Troy Smith, a former Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State who operated as a Wildcat option for Baltimore in relief of starter Joe Flacco.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh bristled at the suggestion that Taylor and Smith are parallel quarterbacks.
“To me, that’s totally an irrelevant question in all honesty,” Harbaugh said. “Think about that question for a minute. Tyrod Taylor stands on his own two feet. Troy had a great career. I’ve said many times that I think Troy’s got a chance to be a heck of a quarterback in this league.
“Tyrod Taylor has a chance to be a heck of a quarterback in this league. If you want to make comparisons between the two of them, look at the tape. Watch the two guys play. You’re a college football fan, right? You’ve seen Tyrod play? You can answer that for yourself.”
The Ravens weren’t the only NFL team that liked Taylor.
He visited the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and the Jacksonville Jaguars. And he conducted private workouts for the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins and had a breakfast meeting with the San Diego Chargers before his campus Pro Day workout.
Taylor said he’s willing to line up anywhere, but his conversations with the Ravens have been confined to the quarterback position.
“I guess that’s between me and the coaches,” Taylor said. “With the talk that I had with them around the time they selected me, everything was quarterback talk. They were excited about the type of quarterback I am and what I bring to the game. If those questions come up, that’s between me and the coaches and we’ll deal with it when it happens. Right now, I’m looking forward to going in and competing and learning as a quarterback.”
At the NFL scouting combine, Taylor had an accurate throwing session.
And the 6-foot-1, 217-pounder ran the 40-yard dash between 4.47 and 4.52 seconds and posted a 37 1/2 inch vertical leap, a 10-06 broad jump and a 6.78 three-cone drill.
Taylor won 34 career games, leading his team to four bowl games and three ACC championship game appearances.
“I make plays,” Taylor said. “I didn’t label myself as a scrambler or a pocket passer. I went out there and played my style. I just moved in the pocket. I can honestly say that when I do move the pocket, I don’t look to run.
“Maybe early on as a freshman, but since then I move the pocket and use my ability to move to help the receivers get open down the field. I wouldn’t classify me as a scrambler. I’m a guy who can move, but I’ve made throws from the pocket and I can do that.”
For his career, Taylor passed for 7,017 yards, 44 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.
He also rushed for 2,196 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Taylor has drawn some criticism for having a hitch in his throwing motion, but he completed 57.23 percent of his career throws.
He’s not very tall, but hasn’t had problems with deflected passes or creating passing lanes.
“I’m very comfortable,” Taylor said. “My height doesn’t bother me. It hasn’t made the quarterback position difficult. It’s about finding passing lanes, knowing the defenses and of course knowing offenses and going out there and using your legs to move the pocket and not necessarily run.”
A former Parade Magazine All-American from Hampton, Va., who was one of the most highly recruited dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation, Taylor talked with the Ravens at the East-West Shrine all-star game.
He also had an informal meeting with them at the combine.
“It was one of the teams that I talked to and felt pretty good with the interview,” Taylor said.
Because the NFL is back in lockout mode after the latest court ruling, Taylor won’t be able to talk to the coaches or receive a playbook.
He can interact with Flacco and former Virginia Tech wide receiver Justin Harper.
“I’m going to reach out to Flacco,” Taylor said. “We’re teammates now, so hopefully we can get some study sessions on and just help my progression. The lockout is difficult for a quarterback because you’re not able to get the playbook as soon as you can, but everyone is in the lockout. I’m going to try to reach out to Flacco, get in the playbook and learn it as quickly as possible.”