Ravens on quest for a quarterback

OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens' quarterback quandary remains unresolved, and the ultimate resolution is unlikely to be spawned from the NFL draft.

It's improbable that Texas quarterback Vince Young -- one of general manager Ozzie Newsome's favorite prospects -- or Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler will be available for the Ravens' 13th overall pick.

That leaves quarterback Kyle Boller as the tentative starter while the Ravens wait for an outcome in the dramatic standoff between veteran Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans.

If Baltimore wants to draft the multi-dimensional Young, who may go as high as the Tennessee Titans' third overall draft pick or as low as the Oakland Raiders' seventh overall selection, they would have to part ways with their second-round pick.
While the Ravens don't appear concerned about Young's unorthodox throwing motion or his low score on the Wonderlic exam, director of college scouting Eric DeCosta all but ruled out having a shot at Young or Cutler. Plus, a trade would leave Baltimore with no other first-day draft picks since the team lacks a third-round pick.

"Young is a different breed," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "He has the size, the accuracy and the throwing action. He's a spectacular talent, but he doesn't look like anybody else. So that tends to make us all nervous. He gets downgraded for that."

The Ravens don't seem nearly as high on Cutler, who went 11-35 as a starter for the perennially downtrodden Commodores. His stock climbed rapidly because of outstanding workouts.

"That's why I would be concerned with Cutler," Billick said. "He's a good young man who is intelligent, but he's not really been under the spotlight on a consistent basis."

Nonetheless, the Ravens are committed to drafting a quarterback at some point as a developmental prospect. They had Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst and Oregon's Kellen Clemens in for visits.

Whitehurst is a mobile 6-foot-5, 222-pounder initially projected as a second-round choice that could go as late as the third or fourth round. He underwent postseason surgery on his throwing shoulder, but has recovered well.

Clemens is extremely accurate, but lacks ideal mobility, especially since fracturing his ankle. His arm strength is a question mark, but he's regarded as a strong fit for the West Coast offense. He has been lauded for his take-charge leadership style in the huddle.

Alabama's Brodie Croyle draws mixed reviews. NFL scouts are concerned that his slight build at 6-3, 204 pounds reminiscent of Ty Detmer and Koy Detmer could cause a major durability issue. Croyle has a lengthy history of knee and shoulder injuries.

"Brodie's real intelligent, has a strong arm and a lot of savvy and poise," DeCosta said. "He's been hit and hurt a lot and is a thinner guy. I worry about what will happen long-term with a 285-pound defensive end running a 4.6 hitting him in the chest. How is he going to hold up?"

DeCosta was complimentary of UCLA's Drew Olson, who threw 31 touchdowns with only three interceptions last season.

"Olson doesn't have the best arm, not the best athlete, but he's smart and tough," DeCosta said. "He made UCLA a competitive team. He may not ever be a starter, but he will be a great backup."

Bowling Green quarterback Omar Jacobs has good size and productivity, but has been criticized for a quirky delivery.

"He's a second-day pick, a backup type prospect, probably not a starter," DeCosta said. "He could move the chains in a pinch."

The Ravens don't seem to be interested in troubled Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick, whom DeCosta predicted would go late in the second day of the draft.

"A lot of teams don't want to deal with problem children or whatever the term is," DeCosta said.

If the Ravens do draft a quarterback, Billick doesn't envision him starting over Boller this season. Of course, that comment doesn't preclude McNair or Kerry Collins from emerging as the new starter.

"I have enough faith in Kyle Boller that it might be an uphill battle for that young man," Billick said. "We're going to create some more options for the quarterback position, but my resolve and confidence in Kyle Boller has not changed."


CHARTING THE QUARTERBACKS
Editor's note: Here's a look at quarterbacks who could be available for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL draft. Virginia Tech prospect Marcus Vick would be on this list if not for his multitude of character issues.
1. Texas QB Vince Young
2. Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler
3. Alabama QB Brodie Croyle
4. Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst
5. Oregon QB Kellen Clemens
6. UCLA QB Drew Olson
7. Bowling Green QB Omar Jacobs
8. Alabama State QB Tarvaris Jackson
9. Toledo QB Bruce Gradkowski
10. Georgia QB D.J. Shockley
 

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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