The NFL scouting combine starts Feb. 22. In advance of the NFL’s annual meat market in Indianapolis, staff writer Matt Vensel will examine each position and give Ravens fans the 4-1-1. Today he looks at quarterbacks.
The top prospects: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is being hailed as a once-in-a-generation prospect by many noteworthy draft analysts, including Maryland’s own Mel Kiper Jr. In his three seasons at Stanford, Luck completed nearly 70 percent of his throws for 9,430 yards, 82 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He played in a pro-style system and his intangibles are said to be off the charts, giving him the edge over Robert Griffin III. Griffin, who also ran track at Baylor, burst onto the national scene in 2011. He completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns and won the Heisman Trophy. Griffin should wow scouts at the combine, but he will be hard-pressed to overtake Luck as the draft’s top overall prospect. Other possible first-round picks at quarterback include Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler.
Other intriguing names: Brandon Weeden had a fine senior season at Oklahoma State and has the size and arm strength to play in the pros. The problem is he is 27 years old, which could keep his draft stock down. Case Keenum put up ridiculous stats at Houston, throwing for 5,631 yards and 48 touchdowns in 2011, but is he just a system quarterback? Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, formerly of N.C. State, can climb draft boards with a good workout. Boise State’s Kellen Moore, listed at 5-foot-11, will be scrutinized before lacing up his cleats.
Grading the class: Ravens director of college scouting Joe Hortiz, in a recent interview with the team's website, identified quarterback as one of the top position groups in this year’s draft. Rare top-end talent is there in Luck and Griffin, who are both likely be drafted in the top five picks with solid showings at the combine and could go 1-2 when all is said and done. Several quarterbacks could be selected in the first two rounds. I’ll give the QB class a solid A.
Fitting the Ravens: Like it or not, the Ravens have their franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco and they hope to sign him to a long-term contract extension soon. They selected Tyrod Taylor in last year’s draft, and they were confident enough in Taylor (and in Flacco’s durability) to roster just two quarterbacks last season. Drafting a quarterback isn’t likely to be a priority in 2012, but you never know.