Most would not consider Joe Flacco an elite quarterback – he has been middle of the pack statistically – though outperforming his supposed bettors while leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl has enhanced his reputation. He’s a competent NFL quarterback with a very good arm and, pending the Super Bowl result,”a winner.” He’s also one of the rare cases where NFL Draft guys completely saw him coming. He’s the anti-Blaine Gabbert.
Flacco was viewed as a product of draft hype. He was not a prized recruit out of high school, originally enrolling at Pittsburgh. He played for an FCS school, Delaware. Sports Illustrated termed his Senior Bowl performance “disastrous.” Many were skeptical. Some felt he was a product of playing against inferior competition. Some were willing to grant him the benefit of the doubt on that, but were concerned about his experience being primarily out of the shotgun (which feels sooo 2008). Roch Kubatko wrote the following: [Baltimore Sun Apr. 29, 2008]
If there’s a greater concern about Flacco, it’s how he took his snaps primarily out of the shotgun. Because the Ravens aren’t likely to move him away from center most of the time, he’ll be the one making the adjustment. Dropping back can’t be followed by falling down, or that’ll become an issue real fast. But it’s not like he’s never done it.
Some viewed Flacco as a project, unable to help the Ravens immediately. Toni Grossi wrote the following in his immediate assessment of the Ravens’ 2008 Draft. [Cleveland Plain Dealer, Apr. 29, 2008]
By the time Flacco is ready to win – not just play – Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and other Ravens star defensive players may be sitting in the NFL Network studio chairs.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel felt Flacco could not be a success because he was tall, taller than almost any other “above average” quarterback. Here’s your gem quote from that article. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, Apr. 19, 2008]
“I’ve got a problem with Flacco,” a personnel director for an AFC team said. “You know why? He’s 6-6. I don’t know why it is but history tells you they’re not going to be any good.”
While the amateurs had doubts, the “professional” draft analysts were dead on with Flacco. The Scouts Inc analysis pegged him. “Big-time arm”that was “a notch below…JaMarcus Russell.” “Trusts his arm too much at times, which leads to critical errors throwing the ball into traffic.”
Both Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock were high on Flacco, believing he was the second best quarterback in the class behind Matt Ryan and a first-round pick. Kiper told Bill Ordine of the Baltimore Sun Flacco went from “intriguing” to the “real deal” during his senior season. [Baltimore Sun, Apr. 17, 2008]. He wrote for ESPN that he thought the Falcons might trade back to get him later in the first round (Ravens ended up doing that).
Joe Flacco has been hovering around my Top 25 Big Board all season, and this week he cracked the board. Flacco’s size and arm strength are the best in this year’s quarterback class, and he really impressed teams during his individual workouts. Although he’s not tremendously mobile, Flacco moves well enough in the pocket. He also appears to be extremely coachable and a quick study. Similar to what Cleveland did last year with Brady Quinn, don’t be surprised if the Atlanta Falcons try and trade back into the latter stages of the first round to draft Flacco.
Mayock was quite impressed with what Flacco brought to the table physically. On the Apr. 27, 2008 edition of NFL Networks’ Total Access, he said that Brady Quinn was unfit to carry Flacco’s jock.
“I had some people make comments to me last night, ‘Why did they go back to [the] 18[th-overall pick]? Did they really need to get [Flacco] like that? Come on, how good a football player is this guy?’ Let me put it in perspective: Brady Quinn — everybody thought was a top-10 pick last year — Brady Quinn, as far as physical skill set, can’t carry his jock.”
Flacco, through all the fanfare, was Flacco. When asked who would play him in a biopic in March, 2008: “Who cares? The important part is who plays my love interest.”
[Photo via Getty]