One of the most interesting things that took place in the 2008 NFL Draft was the Baltimore Ravens selecting Delaware’s Joe Flacco in the first round ahead of the big name QB’s like Brian Brohm and Chad Henne.
Baltimore fans are saying that this kid is the answer to the Ravens’ anemic passing attack. Also, that behind his arm and Ray Lewis’ defense, that they are a lock to make the postseason.
The only lock is that Flacco will end up looking foolish when he steps under center.
Why? The center that Flacco will be behind, Mike Flynn, is 33-years-old. All-Pro left tackle Jonathan Odgen is 33 too. Neither of them played a full 16 last year. It’s also well known that Odgen’s 6’9” frame is breaking down and that he is contemplating retirement.
If Flacco loses either his anchor or his blindside protector, he is standing behind a very average line. 2007 first-round pick Ben Grubbs may be switching from right guard to left guard in order to continue the Ravens' weakside running game, but will that affect his protection? Who’s filling in for Grubbs at right guard?
Any injury to the line weakens the protection that Flacco will receive. This is obvious. However, a strong running game can also protect a new quarterback by forcing a defensive end or outside linebacker to run-check before rushing the passer.
Willis McGahee is good, but without Odgen, Grubbs, or Flynn, he won’t be able to make a difference. The opposition will overload blitz every down, breaking up runs in the backfield and knocking Flacco to the turf consistently.
And should Flacco stand tall against the blitz, he’ll be looking at the sorriest group of wide receivers this side of Chicago. Since the Super Bowl victory in 2001, guess how many pass catchers the Ravens have drafted on day one? Four, and only two of them play wide receiver.
Todd Heap is a very good tight end, but not a receiver, and Yamon Figures is really their primary return man. WR Devard Darling is with the Chiefs for 2008, which leaves Flacco staring down Mark Clayton. Yuck.
Being a Ravens' quarterback in and of itself doesn’t bode well for Flacco. Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Chris Redman, Kyle Boller… the list of recent signal-callers is not a very talented one.
It’s kind of unfortunate that the one great quarterback that the Ravens acquired (Steve McNair) was washed up by the time he arrived in Baltimore. Flacco could have had help transitioning from a FCS school to becoming an NFL star.
Now he’s going to have to learn the hard way.