In the weeks leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft (April 26-27), BR.com will offer a look into the top prospects by position. This week, quarterbacks are under center, and today we're spotlighting Delaware's Joe Flacco.
Joe Flacco possesses the perfect size for an NFL-level quarterback, a cannon for an arm and the statistics to back up his enormous potential.
Despite the fact that Flacco went to Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) Delaware, he is certainly no "Average Joe."
The 6-foot-6, 236-pound signal-caller has been making waves after a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl, where he began with an awkward drop back, having operated mostly out of the shotgun at Delaware, and ended looking smooth and comfortable under center.
Such progression showed in his collegiate career, which began in 2006 after transferring from Pittsburgh to step out from under the shadow of incumbent Tyler Palko.
"If you look at my film, I was probably under center 50 percent of the time this year, not necessarily passing out of it, but I took snaps," Flacco said. "Taking snaps is not a problem. I'm just getting used to it.
"Coming from Pittsburgh, I had to adjust to the shotgun because we were strictly under center there. I'm used to being under center, and I'm happy to be there."
In his first season at Delaware, Flacco passed for 2,783, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 11 starts.
With the Audobon, N.J. native at the helm during his senior season, the Blue Hens did even better. Flacco got 15 starts in 2007, leading the way to a FCS Championship bid on a 4,263-yard, 23-touchdown campaign. In addition, of 331 completions (521 attempts; 63.5 percent), Flacco only tossed five interceptions.
While many mainstream football fans might not have known Flacco's name months ago, it's a safe bet those fans will get an earful about this prospect by draft day.
Still, Flacco remains grounded to his Jersey roots, keeping in mind that he still has to hear some ribbing from his hometown friends.
"It doesn't give me any more confidence," he said at the NFL Combine, where Flacco was one of the hottest topics among the media throng. "All I have to do is go home and get made fun of by all of my family. They tell me how dorky I look on TV, so it's not giving me any more confidence. It's nice for my family."
Flacco was impressive at the Combine, where he posted a 28-inch vertical leap, and was one of the top performers in the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle, which show the big gunslinger's mobility.
"Just because I'm 6-6, 236 doesn't mean I can't move," he said. "I like to think that I'm a pretty good athlete and I'm out to show that."
One thing he didn't feel that he needed to prove to scouts at the Combine or his Pro Day, which was attended by a bevy of Ravens representatives: the bench press.
"I'm a quarterback," he joked. "What do you want me to do, do it one time?"
Coming from a smaller school, Flacco isn't necessarily used to the attention that comes with the marquee position in the NFL.
Flacco will certainly have to get acclimated quickly, and by all accounts, he's getting there. If nothing else, he can laugh at the circus surrounding his status as one of the best quarterbacks in the draft.
"I keep saying that if I wasn't myself, I don't know if I'd like me too much right now," Flacco said with self-deprecation. "I'd probably be sick of myself. I don't think I have too much to prove at this point. I think if you watch the film you can see enough."