No clucking

The Baltimore Sun

If you must tear down new Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, could you please leave his school out of it?

Stick to his choice of fabric softener. Maybe the guy tips only 15 percent. Maybe he introduced a future Hall of Fame pitcher to a young country music singer.

But does he have to catch so much flak-o for playing at the University of Delaware?

So his team dressed like the University of Michigan, without the Big Ten schedule as an accessory. Big deal. So his passing graded out to an A+ against Football Championship Subdivision opponents. Is that a crime?

Flacco might not have faced the top defenses in the nation every week, but he wasn't exactly surrounded by Bowl Championship Series-caliber weapons on offense, either. You'll notice that he was the only Blue Hen selected in the NFL draft. Guys were chosen from Bentley, St. Augustine's, Gardner-Webb and Mount Union. But only one representative from Delaware had his name called.

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.

Flacco is 6 feet 6, but he's not a klutz who moves around like a newborn giraffe. He had the strongest arm among quarterbacks in the draft, and he reportedly ran a 4.75-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

He won't outrun Michael Vick -- and if he did, boy, would his dogs be tired -- but he also won't be a statue in the pocket. Or worse, Drew Bledsoe.

Taking Flacco at No. 18 might have been a bit of a reach, but draft gurus Mel Kiper Jr. and Mike Mayock had him rated as the second-best quarterback after Boston College's Matt Ryan, who went third to the Atlanta Falcons. And Flacco's numbers don't just jump out at you, they knock you down and sit on your chest. They do everything except steal your milk money.

Start with the yardage -- 4,263 through the air last season -- and 23 touchdowns. And perhaps most impressive, only five interceptions. He can throw the long ball, and he's also accurate. He has strength and touch.

According to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, the Ravens contacted the St. Louis Rams, who sat at No. 2, and offered first-, second- and fourth-round picks this year and a third-rounder next year for the chance to grab Ryan. The Rams would have pulled the trigger if the Ravens had upgraded the 2009 pick to a first-round selection. Insane.

Fortunately for Ravens fans, the deal never went down. The Rams were too determined to take Virginia defensive end Chris Long, and unless Ryan also was going to cure diseases between Pro Bowl appearances, he didn't seem worth such an exorbitant price. Not with Flacco on the board later in the round.

Ryan comes from a big school and a big conference. Flacco comes from Delaware, which also produced Rich Gannon, who received some pretty big recognition in 2002, when he was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player.

The New England Patriots selected Gannon in the fourth round in 1987 and tried to make him a defensive back. The Ravens will groom Flacco to be their starting quarterback.

At least one of them got it right.

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