Ravens Get Their Man


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Newsome moved from the eighth to the 26th spot in one early trade, then back up to No. 18 to select Baltimore's quarterback of the future.

For the veteran draft "Wizard," all the action was definitely worth it.

"I can honestly say that we got one of the better players on our board," Newsome said in a press conference immediately after making the selection.

Flacco, 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, was rated just behind Boston College's Matt Ryan, whom the Atlanta Falcons took with the third pick in the draft. In the Ravens' eyes, Flacco stood out from Chad Henne of Michigan and Louisville's Brian Brohm, two other quarterbacks regarded as first-day talents.

A tough signal-caller with a powerful arm, Flacco made a name for himself after a stellar collegiate career. After transferring from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 to seek more playing time, he started 26 games for the Blue Hens, throwing 41 touchdowns to only 15 interceptions.

He also holds the school career-record with a 63.4 completion percentage.

"He has a rocket arm, he's smart, he's a big kid, he's played in bad weather, which we like," said director of college scouting Eric DeCosta. "We grinded on these quarterbacks until the very end. Joe was the guy that separated himself from the other guys."

Despite leading Delaware to within one win of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title in 2007, his small-school credentials kept him from becoming a household name throughout the season.

That wasn't true for the Ravens. DeCosta noted that area scout Joe Douglas, an eight-year veteran of Baltimore's personnel department, put Flacco on the Ravens' radar.

Once the signal-caller lit up the Colonial Athletic Association, and followed it with stellar performances at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, where he showcased his accuracy, cannon and unexpected agility, Flacco began to garner national attention.

On Douglas' hint, DeCosta sent a contingent to the Delaware's upset win against Navy in Annapolis, where Flacco earned CAA Player of the Week honors after passing for four touchdowns.

"In August, Joe called me and said, 'Delaware has a quarterback who's legit,'" DeCosta said. "This was way before anybody had ever heard of Joe Flacco. I had the chance to watch him play against Navy this year down in Annapolis, and he put on an absolute show."

When thinking about small-college prospects that succeeded at the next level, the scouting director pointed out recent Pro Bowlers Kurt Warner, a Northern Illinois alumnus now playing for the Arizona Cardinals, and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo of Eastern Illinois.

Newsome thinks that pro-level coaching could bring similar production out of Flacco.

"From my perspective, Joe went to Pitt coming out of high school," Newsome explained. "He went to a major college and things didn't work out there in that situation, so he went back just to play football. He walked on and played. Then he goes to the Senior Bowl and he measured up there. [Head coach] John [Harbaugh] and [offensive coordinator] Cam [Cameron] will get Joe in here and put him in the mix, and we'll let him mature and develop the best way he can."

Harbaugh is reluctant to hand Flacco the reins of the offense at this point. The rookie will compete with Kyle Boller and 2007 draft pick Troy Smith for the starting position after Steve McNair's abrupt retirement announcement last week.

"We said all along that the quarterback job is going to be a competition," Harbaugh said. "Whoever gives us the best chance to win at any particular time is gong to be our quarterback.. It's not like every other position because it's the quarterback, but the best quarterback is going to be the quarterback who plays. We're not ruling anything out. But like I said many times, we have two good quarterbacks on campus right now that we're excited about, and we shouldn't diminish those two guys either."

The Ravens traded their No. 8 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for their 26th, two third-rounders (71st and 89th) and a fourth (125th). Newsome said that he felt teams who picked in the beginning of the first round would attempt to get back into the late teens or early 20s, prompting the Ravens to send their Nos. 89 and 173 to the Houston Texans to take Flacco 18th.

Jacksonville took Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey eighth overall, while the Texans tabbed offensive tackle Duane Brown with the 26th pick.

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