James Harris, Warren Moon and Lamar Jackson are just a few examples of quarterbacks who resisted suggestions to switch positions to achieve success in the NFL. Towson’s Tom Flacco, however, would have no objections to such a proposal.
“I’d tell them to draft me, and I’ll switch positions, but they would have to draft me,” he said Friday morning. “If it’s going to get me on an NFL roster, I’m willing to switch positions at the NFL level. But they have to draft me because if there’s another opportunity to play quarterback for another team, I’ll go there.”
Flacco, the 25-year-old younger brother of former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, is one of many potential NFL prospects eager for a chance to showcase their talents at the professional level. In each of his two seasons with the Tigers, he was named a finalist for the Walter Payton Award that honors the top offensive player in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision after finishing his career ranked third in school history in touchdown passes (50) and sixth in passing yards (6,082).
On Jan. 12, Flacco threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score to spark the National team to a 35-7 victory over the American team in the Tropical Bowl in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was named the National team’s Offensive Most Valuable Player.
“He was consistent each and every day, and in the Tropical Bowl game, he threw the ball extremely well,” said Hunt, who also writes for The Athletic. “He had two touchdown passes, and you saw a little bit of everything. You saw his deep-ball accuracy, you saw his athleticism, his ability to throw outside of the pocket and on the move. So I thought he had a well-rounded performance and definitely raised his profile in the eyes of scouts.”
Hunt said he has heard projections of Flacco as a third-day pick in the NFL draft, somewhere in the sixth or seventh round. Tropical Bowl founder and president Michael Quartey has heard similar forecasts, but pointed out that former Samford quarterback Devlin “Duck” Hodges — who thrived at last year’s Tropical Bowl — went undrafted and made six starts for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Tom Flacco’s quarterback play at Towson University has been at the Player of the Year award-winning level, and I believe he will get his shot in the NFL,” Quartey wrote via email. “I believe with Flacco’s performance at the FBS Tropical Bowl, it will solidify any questions on if he has what it takes to play at the NFL level.”
Asked if he is nervous about his draft stock, Flacco — who was not invited to the NFL scouting combine and is focusing on Towson’s Pro Day in March — replied, “It is what it is. You don’t really think about that. Right now, my whole mindset and my focus is on this training and getting better and getting prepared for the Pro Day. I’m looking for opportunities to just show them my abilities.”
While taking online courses towards earning a master’s in applied information technology, Flacco is working with quarterbacks coach Tony Racioppi at TEST Football Academy in Martinsville, New Jersey, to refine his footwork and gain a greater grasp of NFL offenses.
NFL Draft Prep QB Tom Flacco of Towson working Gun 5 Quick and Reset with Dovetail Throwing 16yd Comeback with elite accuracy and velocity to Towson WR Shane Leatherbury. Great to have Tom back after winning MVP of Tropical Bowl yesterday. @TEST_Football#nfldraft#qbpic.twitter.com/thEMFH69Mj
After spending a majority of his time in the shotgun with the Tigers, Flacco is reacquainting himself with lining up under center and taking five- and seven-step drops.
“There are subtle things that make it easier and can give me confidence,” he said of his training regimen. “By the time Pro Day comes around, I’m going to be a machine.”
Flacco said he has not picked his older brother’s brain about what to anticipate from NFL scouts. Instead, he has sought a different type of counsel from Joe, who is back in New Jersey rehabilitating a neck injury that sidelined him after making eight starts for the Denver Broncos.
“I might see him on the weekends, and I ask him about NFL terminology and the NFL playbook,” Tom Flacco said. “So that’s the thing where I might get some insight from Joe.”
Flacco, who rushed for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns in two seasons at Towson, said people have compared him with the versatile Taysom Hill of the New Orleans Saints. While admitting that he has not been a running back since his youth football days, Flacco said he caught punts in practices in the fall and can track the flight of a football after playing right field for the Tigers baseball team last spring.
“I can’t tell you that I can do what he does because I haven’t played those positions in such a long time,” he said. “But I’d like to think that I can because I’m an athlete and think I can play wherever.”
Hunt, the Football Gameplan founder, said he thinks Flacco should remain at quarterback.
“I think his home will be at quarterback. I don’t see why not,” he said. “I like guys to stay at the positions that they played their whole lives as opposed to trying to change at the highest of levels against guys that have played their positions their entire lives. So I think he’s a quarterback, and I think he’ll find a home in the NFL or CFL or XFL.”
Whether Flacco will get a turn to make his case for quarterback remains to be seen. But he thinks that will happen — as a draft pick or a rookie free agent.
“I’m really focused on this training right now, but I’m also confident that I’m going to get an opportunity, and that’s all I want,” he said. “I think once I get an opportunity, I’m going to be liked by someone. I’m going to show them that I’m a hard worker, but I’m also going to show that I have the talent to be an NFL quarterback. I just need that opportunity. I’m trying to get seen as much as I can, and I’m trying to do things to get out there. … I’m just making sure that when the time comes, I’m ready.”