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I swear I've seen about 100 stories or so over the past month about how Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is expected to take a giant leap in his third season. I'm not judging. I'll be working on a similar story soon, too. Flacco is the offensive X-factor for the Ravens in 2010.

Anyway, I found an interesting quote from Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome in a Flacco column by Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News. Newsome was referring to Flacco when he talked about players progressing the most from their second NFL season to their third, but it could be applied to the Ravens' entire 2008 draft class.

"The third year is when most players make their biggest jump," Newsome said. "The first year you come out, you play on pure athleticism. You come back your second year and you're still playing on athleticism, but you start to learn how to play the game. You figure out there's an easier way to do it. 

"Then that third year most players make the biggest jump. The light goes on. They figure out they belong in the league and have an understanding of what it takes to be in this league. There's a maturity level that occurs in that third year for every player, where they start to match their physical abilities with the intellectual aspect of playing the game." 

That's especially noteworthy because the 2008 draft class, now entering its third season, was one of Newsome's finest in his long tenure as Baltimore's general manager.

That class included Flacco (first round), Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice (second), inside linebacker Tavares Gooden (third), safety Tom Zbikowski (third), offensive tackle Oniel Cousins (third), wide receiver Marcus Smith (fourth), offensive lineman David Hale (fourth), safety Haruki Nakamura (sixth) and wide receiver Justin Harper (seventh).

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