Ravens' QB options extend beyond Ryan

OWINGS MILLS -- If the Baltimore Ravens are unable to land Boston College senior Matt Ryan with the eighth overall pick, it definitely won't sack their pursuit of a potential blue-chip quarterback. Although Ryan is the lone consensus high first-round prospect, there are multiple passers worthy of consideration toward the end of the first round or early in the second round.

That group is headlined by Delaware's Joe Flacco, Louisville's Brian Brohm and Michigan's Chad Henne, all of whom have visited the Ravens' training complex and also conducted private workouts for team officials.

It hasn't exactly been a secret that the quarterback-starved Ravens covet Ryan, but their interest also tilts toward Flacco. Especially if he approaches their second-round pick, which is No. 38 overall. There's buzz that Flacco may go late in the first round.

Flacco wowed offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and several other Ravens coaches and scouts during a private workout on the Delaware campus. In front of the Ravens' brass, the towering Pitt transfer delivered all the throws, including a 70-yard spiral standing still with no windup.

At 6-foot-6, 236 pounds with a cannon of a right arm and solid mobility for his size, Flacco is considered to be a prototype pocket passer.

"Joe is an interesting prospect," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said. "He's been very impressive, very strong arm, very accurate passer and good size. He's intelligent.

"He's passed every test from the Senior Bowl to the combine to the individual workouts. He's just a very impressive kid from an ability and personality standpoint."

The biggest question mark surrounding Flacco is his competition having played at the former Division I-AA level.

It's hard to criticize his production, though, leading his team to the national championship game last year as he piled up 4,263 yards and 23 touchdowns on 63.5 percent accuracy with just five interceptions.

Flacco has ideal size, and he took full advantage of Ryan and Brohm snubbing the Senior Bowl as he caught scouts' eye during a stellar week of practices.

The Ravens don't appear to have concerns about Flacco's mettle.

"The knock on him was that he played at Delaware," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "There was a great quote he said, 'The football field is still 100 yards. The receivers are either open or they're not, and you have to hit them.'"

A New Jersey native, Flacco transferred from Pitt after being blocked for the starting job by incumbent Tyler Palko.

"I didn't want to leave my playing time to chance," Flacco told reporters at the NFL scouting combine. "At that point, I didn't have many options."

Now, Flacco has overcome a lot to get to the point where he's regarded as a big-time prospect.

"I don't think I have too much to prove at this point," he said. "I think if you watch the film you can see enough."

Although Flacco's profile has grown, he has maintained a self-deprecating, low-key personality. His family keeps him humble.

"All I have to do is go home and get made fun of by all of my family," he said. "They tell me how dorky I look on TV, so it's not giving me any more confidence."

Meanwhile, Brohm has seen his stock drop over the past year with loud whispers about his toughness and whether he was coddled at his hometown school. Once regarded as the top quarterback in last year's draft if he had foregone his senior year, Brohm is trying to rebuild his reputation.

Last season, the 6-3, 230-pounder threw for a career-high 4,024 yards, including 500 yards against Syracuse, while throwing 30 touchdowns on 65 percent accuracy.

So, what happened to him during a 6-6 campaign after coach Bobby Petrino's exit?

"There's really nothing to be worried about, I'm not going to be stressed about it," said Brohm, the Big East Conference's all-time leader in with 10,775 passing yards. "I went through a lot of struggling times, dealing with a coaching change. Knowing how to deal with it in the correct way will help me out in the future."

Brohm doesn't have the biggest arm, but does throw a well-timed, catchable football. He would fit the West Coast offense extremely well.

"He's very accurate," DeCosta said. "He's not blessed with great size, but has a quick, efficient release. Of the bunch, he probably has the most ordinary arm, but the ball comes out quickly and on target.

"He anticipates very well. He's a bright kid. He has lots of savvy, lots of poise. He will eventually be a starter in the NFL."

Henne has drawn high marks for his big-school and big-game pedigree, his toughness and his arm. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Pennsylvania native set the Wolverines' records for completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes with 9,715 career yards and 87 touchdowns passes.

During an injury-riddled senior year where he missed three games with injuries, he was named All-Big 10 with 1,938 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Henne's mobility and durability are in question, but not his pain threshold as he gutted out a separated right shoulder and a sprained knee last season.

"He's got unbelievable intangibles: leadership, personality and intelligence, " DeCosta said. "He's been a four-year starter at Michigan, which speaks volumes about the kid. He's got a very strong arm. He can make all the throws.

"He's not the biggest guy at almost 6-3 and is probably average athletically. But the sum of his parts is impressive. He reminds people of Jim Kelly from an ability and personality standpoint."

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Johnson intriguing to scouts

OWINGS MILLS -- The story of small-school quarterback prospect Josh Johnson sounds like something a Hollywood scribe penned during the writers' strike.

But the California native's emergence to NFL scouts is a reality.

Johnson arrived at the University of San Diego as a 145-pound freshman after being recruited by Jim Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh's brother, out of an inner-city Oakland high school.

Four years later, Johnson has matured into a 6-foot-2, 213-pound senior who led the Division I-AA Toreros with 43 touchdown passes and just one interception while rushing for 720 yards last year. He was named the offensive MVP of the prestigious East-West Shrine game.

"My story is crazy," Johnson acknowledged to reporters at the NFL scouting combine. "I'm small, not recruited, a former NFL quarterback recruits me to a school a lot of people think is San Diego State once I say San Diego.

"It was a non-scholarship program, and as he changed the program around, my life began to change on and off the field."

Johnson experienced back spasms at the combine, where he ran an impressive 4.53 in the 40-yard dash. But he nervously flubbed the throwing portion of the workout, sailing throws all over the RCA Dome turf.

"Josh Johnson is really good," Jim Harbaugh said. "Then, he gets in the combine and his workouts and it's not as good," Harbaugh said. "Why is that? Jim's point is that he's going to be fine. He'll grow through that.

"Here's this little skinny kid who was a really great athlete. He just wasn't a big-time prospect. After the first year, Jim said, 'This kid is going to be in the NFL.'"

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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