Top QB still up in air

The Baltimore Sun

INDIANAPOLIS -- Staring out at the sea of notebooks and pens that surrounded him, Brian Brohm sounded like a guy who might work on Wall Street, darting between the Bears and the Bulls.

Asked yesterday which quarterback was No. 1 in the deep quarterback class of 2008, Brohm punched his own ticket.

"If you're going to ask me, I'm going to say me," the four-year Louisville starter said. "But I know there are a lot of opinions out there. ... I've just got to get my stock as high as I can."

Brohm, who passed for 10,775 yards and 71 touchdowns at Louisville, is a blue-chip prize who sits just behind golden boy Matt Ryan of Boston College on most draft boards.

Whether he can catch Ryan is a matter of perspective. Thirty-two NFL teams will watch the best of this year's quarterback class throw all manner of passes today at the RCA Dome in combine drills. The verdict won't be delivered until the draft April 26.

Brohm leaves no doubt he would like to be No. 1.

"I think it's definitely important," he said. "As a competitor, you want to be the first player taken at your position. But at the same time, you can't worry about what other guys are doing. You just worry about yourself and go out and perform."

If you're the Ravens, it's a good year to be in the quarterback market. Potential starters abound, say the experts.

"There are a lot of guys who have the chance to be [starters]," said Mel Kiper Jr., the ESPN draft master and a Baltimore native. "At least 12 have a chance to be starting at some point in their careers."

This is a quarterback class that has a little of everything.

Ryan leaped to the top of the list when he threw for 31 touchdowns and 4,507 yards in the Eagles' resurgent season. He's big (6 feet 5), smart and has a strong arm, although some question his feet.

After Brohm, there's a group of quarterbacks who offer intriguing qualities but fall short of can't-miss status. Erik Ainge was productive (31 touchdown passes) at Tennessee, John David Booty ran a pro offense at Southern California and Chad Henne followed a long line of distinguished Michigan quarterbacks.

Andre Woodson of Kentucky had a rough week at the Senior Bowl but oozes potential. Matt Flynn of LSU and Josh Johnson of San Diego are players who could blossom with the right team.

Then there's Joe Flacco from Delaware, a Football Championship Subdivision school that played and beat Towson and Navy this season. What he lacks in big-time experience, he tries to make up for with moxie.

Flacco, who transferred from Pittsburgh after it became apparent he wouldn't get playing time under Dave Wannstedt, already seems weary of the Delaware questions. At 6-6 and 238 pounds, he has NFL size and an NFL arm, if not an NFL resume.

"I don't think I have much to prove at this point," Flacco said. "I think if you watch the films, you can see enough."

When reporters persisted, he grudgingly made this concession: "I guess there is a little difference. Everybody wants to make a big deal about it. If you can play, you can play."

Flacco might not be drafted in the first round, but he will probably go by the end of the second. Like Brohm, the other quarterbacks at the combine are all about boosting their stock this week.

Woodson threw for 40 touchdowns and 3,709 yards at Kentucky last season, but scouts at the Senior Bowl didn't like the hitch in his throwing motion.

"That delivery is going to cause concern," Kiper said, "but he didn't finish strong, either. I started dropping his grade in November. He's in that second- or third-round mix."

Hitch?

Woodson said he has worked with former NFL offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and quarterback guru Tom Shaw, "and neither one thinks I have too much to fix," he said.

Henne, who proved his toughness by playing through shoulder and knee injuries, is here to prove he has better mobility than most people think.

"I train with Brian every day [in Irvine, Calif.]," Henne said. "We're all very similar; it's a matter of who they like best."

Ryan, meanwhile, is the guy drawing the most attention. The Miami Dolphins hold the first pick, and they're willing to trade. The Atlanta Falcons, picking third, need a quarterback desperately.

"It's exciting to be mentioned in that light," he said. "But for me, I just hope somebody gives me an opportunity to go in and compete and try to make an organization a winner."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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