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Ravens shouldn't tear up the QB blueprint for Tyrod Taylor

The Ravens drafted Virginia Tech dual threat Tyrod Taylor in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL draft, making him the first quarterback the team has selected since Joe Flacco in 2008. Given Taylor’s height, resume and his ability to make plays outside of the pocket, a comparison can be made to former Ravens QB Troy Smith.

Just don’t make it in front of Ravens coach John Harbaugh.

“To me, that’s totally an irrelevant question, in all honesty,” Harbaugh said Sunday when a Baltimore reporter asked him if there were similarities between Taylor and Smith besides their mobility. “Think about that question for a minute. Tyrod Taylor stands on his own two feet. Troy had a great career.

“I think 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.”

Well, at least one writer has compared Taylor to Smith. David Teel of The Daily Press in Newport News, Va. covered Taylor during his days at Virginia Tech. Teel pointed out that “each was a wildly successful, dual-threat college quarterback, Taylor at Virginia Tech, Smith at Ohio State” and that “each led his conference in passing efficiency as a senior and was a late-round draft choice by the Baltimore Ravens.”

And each was available late in the draft due to concerns about his height and ability to be a pocket passer.

Generally speaking, late-round draft picks flash glimpses of pro potential in college but have holes in their games that cause them to drop in the draft. But they did enough to get on the radar, and the possibility of them tapping into that potential at the next level makes them intriguing players to study up on.

Tandon Doss did some things at Indiana to catch Joe Flacco’s eye all the way in Baltimore. Chykie Brown was Sergio Kindle’s roommate for a while at Texas. Pernell McPhee terrorized quarterbacks at the junior college level. Anthony Allen put up big numbers, but he did it in Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense.

And then there’s Taylor, who threw for 7,017 yards and 44 touchdowns and ran for 2,196 yards and 23 touchdowns in his college career. A top-notch athlete, Taylor ran a combine-best 4.47 forty-yard dash, had a 37.5-inch vertical leap and has a pretty powerful arm attached to his right shoulder.

His God-given physical skills have people talking about the Ravens using Taylor as a Wildcat quarterback or a wide receiver, but general manager Ozzie Newsome insists the team drafted him to throw the ball.

“He was evaluated as a quarterback by [offensive assistant Craig Ver Steeg] and [offensive coordinator Cam Cameron],” Newsome said Sunday. “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 -- as we see so much now -- guys that can get out of the pocket and hurt people.”

And Taylor believes he can hurt people with both his legs and his arm when he escapes the pocket.

"I have the ability to move the pocket and keep my eyes up the field,” Taylor, the 2010 ACC Player of the Year, recently told ESPN. “I think a lot of people when they move outside the pocket, they feel that they have to run. I’m always keeping my eyes up the field and buying time for the receiver to get open.”

But the inevitable comparisons to Smith have folks here talking about the Ravens possibly dusting off the “Suggs” package that the team used with mixed results in 2008, Joe Flacco’s rookie season. Of course, Taylor would have to be QB No. 2 for that to happen, and that doesn’t seem likely in 2010 because the Ravens want to find an able veteran like Marc Bulger -- or maybe even Bulger himself -- to back up Flacco.

I think the Wildcat has run its course, but if the Ravens do go back to it, Doss is a more likely triggerman.

Taylor was a winning quarterback at Virginia Tech, and in interviews this week he sounds humbled by the opportunity to hone his skills in the NFL and eager to “learn” from Flacco (Joe isn’t a kid anymore).

He is going to be a project, but if the Ravens can resist the temptation to tear up that blueprint and make him a wide receiver or a returner, Taylor could develop into a pretty good NFL quarterback.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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