No matter their college pedigree, sixth-round draft choices are guaranteed squat in the NFL. So Tyrod Taylor, last season’s ACC Player of the Year at Virginia Tech, had to earn his way onto the Baltimore Ravens’ roster.
Consider it done.
"Well, Tyrod, I would say he's made the team. Newsflash," coach John Harbaugh told reporters asking about Taylor's status Thursday night. "Some of the throws he made in the teeth of pressure were just exceptional for us."
Why such an emphatic endorsement? Well, Taylor had just quarterbacked Baltimore on three fourth-quarter scoring drives – two field goals and a touchdown -- against the Washington Redskins in the third preseason game for both. And he capped it with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Jones with 22 seconds left, giving the Ravens a 34-31 victory.
Courtesy of a 38-yard punt return, Baltimore began its final drive on Washington’s 35 with 59 seconds remaining. Operating with no timeouts, Taylor scrambled out of bounds for 15 yards and then hit former Hokies teammate Justin Harper for 11 yards to set up the winning score.
"This is definitely a memorable one," Taylor told Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com. "It was a fun moment, a great one for the team. It's something that us young guys and a team overall, we can look back on and build from this game."
Taylor entered the game midway through the third quarter in relief of incumbent starter Joe Flacco. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 125 yards and no interceptions. He ran twice for 31 yards.
All this, it should be noted, against the Redskins’ backups.
In three preseason games, Taylor is 35-of-57 – that’s above-average, 61.4-percent accuracy – for 392 yards and a touchdown. The downside: two interceptions and eight sacks.
After Flacco and Taylor, the only other quarterback in Ravens camp is Hunter Cantwell, an undrafted free agent who finished his college career at Louisville in 2008. He’s never played in an NFL regular-season game and has attempted three passes in preseason this year.
The question becomes, will Baltimore sign a veteran to back up Flacco, or will Taylor fill that role? The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Flacco has proven remarkably durable, starting all 48 of the Ravens' regular-season games since they drafted him out of Delaware.
“The cement is still wet,” Harbaugh said after a practice this week in a transcript posted on the Ravens’ website. “We’ll see. … (Taylor) is doing well. I think he could be our backup quarterback. By the same token, we will keep our options open. You never know who is going to become available.”
Harbaugh was more effusive after the Ravens’ preseason contest against Kansas City, a game in which Taylor juked linebacker Justin Houston on this 5-yard touchdown run.
“He’s done, probably, as well as we could have expected so far,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a very talented young man. I like his poise. He’s very intelligent. He’s a very fast learner, and I don’t know if I’ve seen a quarterback maybe since Joe Flacco, that picks it up so quickly.
“He just has such a calmness about him, and he’s a pinpoint passer. He’s a very accurate passer, along with the other stuff that is obvious. I don’t think it’s a pleasant surprise, because we liked him a lot. He’s a player.”
It’s not a surprise to many of us, either. Taylor’s poise, talents and character have been evident since his time at Hampton High School. Cool to see those traits translating thus far to the NFL.
"I know I have to impress people, and people are going to be watching me as far as the No. 2 job," Taylor said. "But at the same time, I'm just trying to be the best quarterback I can be and show the coaches that I can be that guy if they need me to."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times