Each day leading up to the NFL Combine, the Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg will blog about a different position, assess the Ravens needs, and evaluate whether or not the Ravens might use an early pick on that position, and if they did, whom it might be. Next up on the list: Quarterback
Ravens needs: Whatever you think about Joe Flacco's sophomore year, he's the Ravens franchise quarterback. Period. However, Troy Smith's desire to start, and his agent's strange mid-season trade request, which Smith laughably tried to say he had not authorized, means the Ravens might look around in the late rounds to find a new back-up for Flacco. If Flacco went down, John Beck would be a capable back-up for the immediate present, but it never hurts to stockpile young quarterbacks, the way Green Bay once did with Matt Hassellbeck (even though they had Brett Favre) and the Patriots did with Matt Cassel (who filled in for Tom Brady.)
Best Players Available: Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame; Sam Bradford, Oklahoma; Tim Tebow, Florida; Colt McCoy, Texas; Jarret Brown, West Virginia; Tony Pike, Cincinnati; Jonathan Crompton, Tennessee; Dan LeFevour, Central Mighigan; Bill Stull, Pittsburgh; Sean Canfield, Oregon State; Armanti Edwards, Appalachian State; Darryl Clark, Penn State.Analysis: Even if the Ravens decide they only want someone who will happily embrace the role of dual-threat quarterback in the Suggs Package -- or what everyone else in the NFL calls the Wildcat -- they've made an upgrade to their team since Troy Smith had no such interest. The best-case scenario for the Ravens might be to pick an athletic quarterback in the late rounds who isn't adverse to playing wide receiver if the opportunity arises. In my opinion, that's what makes Edwards such an interesting, risk-free selection in the last few rounds. A four-year starter at Appalachian State, the only FCS player with more career yards than Edwards is Steve McNair. Edwards completed 68 percent of his passes as a senior, threw for 3,200 yards, and he rushed for 679 yards. He may not project as a future NFL starter because he's not particularly tall (although Drew Brees prove that isn't always the most important factor in success) and because he didn't play against elite competition in college (then again, neither did Joe Flacco) but he's athletic and fast and certainly worth a late-round gamble. Maybe he's the next Hines Ward or Julian Edelman. Even if they don't like Edwards, they should roll the dice on a big, athletic, unpolished playmaker like Crompton or Clark just to give Cam Cameron another weapon to work with.
Chances the Ravens pick a quarterback: A lot of general managers are of the opinion that it's so hard to evaluate quarterbacks, you should take a flier on one every year in the late rounds just in case one works out. I tend to agree. But do the Ravens? It's not clear if they want to meet Troy Smith's demands -- and really, what reasonable team would give them anything besides a 7th-round pick? -- but if they do ship him out, it's likely they'll take a chance on someone.