Will Flacco Still Be There at 44?

The Chicago Bears will be taking a quarterback at some point in the NFL Draft, but it remains to be seen who and when. While Joe Flacco of Delaware is high on their list, he's been getting a lot of attention from other teams lately. Will he still be on the board at No. 44 in Round 2? We have the latest ...

The Monsters of the Midway will enter the regular season with Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton competing for the starting job under center, but there is room for a third quarterback on the roster after trading Brian Griese back to the Buccaneers during the offseason.

Bears general manager Jerry Angelo has publicly stated that there are four QBs on his NFL Draft wish list, and they appear to be Joe Flacco of Delaware, Chad Henne of Michigan, Colt Brennan of Hawaii, and Paul Smith of Tulsa. Both Flacco and Henne are expected to come off the board at some point in the second round, while Brennan and Smith should still be available fairly late on Day 2.

If Angelo decides that Flacco is the one he wants, he'll most likely have to call his name at No. 44 overall in Round 2 – perhaps a little earlier than he would choose to address the game's most important position. Even though Angelo employs a best-player-available approach on draft weekend, he can't hide the fact that this team has immediate needs on both sides of the ball. A rookie passer will not be in the mix for 2008 unless Lovie Smith and Co. fall way out of the playoff race, while a first-year running back or defensive tackle could step in and contribute right away.


QB Joe Flacco
Pamela Kay Schmalenberger/AP Images

But with Flacco having scheduled visits with the Vikings this week, the Ravens this weekend, and the Rams next week, it appears the strong-armed signal-caller will be gone by the time the Bears are on the clock in the second round anyway.

Measuring in at over 6-6 and a sturdy 237 pounds, Flacco originally transferred from Pittsburgh because Tyler Palko – he's now a backup with the Saints – stood in his way on the depth chart. He put up big numbers for the Blue Hens, running the spread offense to perfection and proving more than capable of making every throw necessary at the next level. Some scouts will question the competition he faced as a collegian and his footwork in the pocket needs to improve, but he's got the best arm in the draft by far and is a pretty good athlete considering his size.

While Minnesota is three spots behind the Bears in the second round at 47th overall, St. Louis (33rd) and Baltimore (38th) are both ahead of Angelo and probably have a better opportunity to land Flacco. The Rams should go another direction since they recently invested $65 million in starter Marc Bulger, but the Ravens are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback because Steve McNair is 35 years old and former first-rounder Kyle Boller flopped. If Matt Ryan of Boston College – everybody's top-rated passing prospect – is already selected by the time Baltimore picks at No. 8 in Round 1, Flacco might be the contingency plan.

Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner prefers a deep passing game, so Flacco looks like he could be a good fit in Chicago. Even though Bernard Berrian bolted for Minnesota in free agency, the presence of Mark Bradley and Devin Hester still offers an abundance of speed in the receiving corps. Flacco's learning curve could be steep since he lined up in the shotgun almost exclusively at Delaware, athough he's more mobile than either Grossman or Orton will ever be.

However, drafting Flacco in Round 2 probably means saying goodbye to a tailback like Matt Forte of Tulane and a wideout like Donnie Avery of Houston – two players Angelo has expressed interest in recently.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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