One way or another the Ravens were determined to get a quarterback in round one. When efforts to trade up and take Matt Ryan failed, the Ravens resorted to Plan B, trading down in order to get the second rated quarterback on their board. Fearing Flacco may be gone by the time they picked at 26, the Ravens traded back up with the Texans in order to draft the former Delaware star.
Flacco’s rare size (6-foot-6, 236) and arm strength immediately jump out at you but what impressed the Ravens was his intelligence, toughness and ability to retain information. There’s no question that Flacco has all of the tools to be a starting quarterback in the NFL but at the same time he is making the jump from D-1 AA to the NFL. The Ravens learned with Kyle Boller that throwing a quarterback into the fire right away can seriously backfire and seriously hinder a young quarterback’s development. Working in Flacco’s favor is the fact that he is joining a team with a new coaching staff so he is not working behind quarterbacks who have been in the same system for a number of years. However, Flacco needs more time to learn the position, having started just two years at a D-1 AA school while operating primarily out of the shotgun. Flacco can make all the NFL throws but struggles when forced outside the pocket and will force throws at times because of supreme confidence in his arm. Flacco did a better job of going through his progressions as a senior but still tends to lock onto his primary target and stare down throws. There’s no questioning Flacco’s upside and five years from now we very well may view him as the best quarterback to come out of this class but right now he needs to sit and learn, rather than being thrown into the fire prematurely.
Round 2 (55th pick) – Ray Rice, running back – Rutgers
While running back may not have jumped out as a primary need for the Ravens, the team was desperate to find a reliable backup and someone who could handle an Ahmad Bradshaw type role behind Willis McGahee.
Rice in undersized but runs very physical and will pick up yards after contact. Extremely smart and instinctive, Rice displays excellent vision and is quick to read his blocks and find the hole or cutback lane. Rice carried the ball just over 700 times over the past two seasons at Rutgers and there is some talk that he may not have much of an upside at the next level. However, with his combination of vision, toughness and natural running ability, Rice provides solid depth behind McGahee and will find a way to make an impact as a rookie.