Flacco gets seal of approval

OWINGS MILLS -- Immediately after the Baltimore Ravens drafted Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco in the first round, a clamor began to insert the New Jersey native as the starter under center right away. "Let's be honest: The Ravens aren't going to the Super Bowl," former Ravens cornerback Deion Sanders said moments after Baltimore tabbed Flacco with the 18th overall selection.

"Put this kid on the field and let him learn."

However, a similar decision five years ago proved disastrous for former Baltimore starter Kyle Boller as he was woefully unprepared to start as a rookie. Ultimately, that choice had a negative impact on the entire organization and the status of former Ravens coach Brian Billick.

An advocate of drafting and playing Boller as soon as possible, Billick was fired following a 5-11 campaign on Dec. 31.

"Deion, you got to remember they ran me out of town because I did that with Kyle Boller," said Billick, who's working for NFL Network as a draft analyst. "They have faith in Kyle Boller being able to lead that team. If they decide they want to play Flacco from the get-go, I'm a believer in that obviously.

"If they choose to let this kid mature a little bit more, they'll have that option obviously. The tape I looked at of Joe Flacco is enough to alleviate some fears. With his sheer size, I think he's much more athletic than people give him credit for."

While reviewing video footage of Flacco throwing on the run and displaying uncommon arm strength for the Division I-AA Blue Hens with 41 career touchdown passes and 15 interceptions, analyst Mike Mayock doled out heavy praise of the Pitt transfer.

"I got a lead from a scouting director in October to get my butt down to Delaware to watch this kid," Mayock said. "He has one of the biggest arms I've ever seen at the collegiate level. He can make every throw. He's got a ways to go on his footwork because he's a big guy and because he played in the spread formation.

"He's going to be a little bit of a project. But look at the hip torque and the way the ball comes out of his hands and hits a receiver in a heartbeat. To me, it's Matt Ryan and then everyone else is behind him, but five years from now a lot of people feel that Joe Flacco might wind up being the best quarterback out of this draft class."

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

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