Baltimore Ravens: Was Drafting Taylor a Sign to Come, If Asomugha Is Pursued?

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Baltimore Ravens: Was Drafting Taylor a Sign to Come, If Asomugha Is Pursued?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Free agent Pro Bowl shutdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha is the prize jewel of free agency and if the Ravens are in the market of pursuing him after drafting a talented QB, Baltimore will have a major decision to make.

The Baltimore Ravens is one of the best teams in the NFL when it comes to drafting talent and the 2011 NFL Draft was no different.  

The Ravens addressed issues in the secondary by selecting Jimmy Smith out of Colorado, Chykie Brown out of Texas and pass catchers with size in Torrey Smith out of Maryland and Tandon Doss out of Indiana.

Baltimore was aggressive by trading their 90th and 191st picks to the Philadelphia Eagles to move up in the third round to select the physically violent offensive tackle Jah Reid out of Central Florida.

However, to drafting only one defensive lineman, defensive end Pernell McPhee out of Mississippi State, when demonstrating the lack of a consistent pass rush for the past couple of season was a bit of shock, placing them with a “B+” grade. 

At the same time, the Ravens’ calling card for years has been their eye for talent through finding and signing undrafted rookie free agents, so finding defensive line talent will not be an issue. But selecting quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the fifth round may be a revelation.

Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco will be the team’s starting signal caller for Week 1 of the NFL 2011 season, which is not the issue. 

If the Ravens are contemplating to pursue free agent Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha without signing Flacco to an extension in the near future, could the four-year quarterback or running back Ray Rice be out as a Raven, especially with not having defensive tackle Haloti Ngata signed to a long-term deal yet?

“There were some guys we liked,” said director of player personnel Eric DeCosta in the Ravens’ press conference on Saturday.

“But I think, quite honestly, we like our guys. We’ve got a number of inside linebackers that we think can get better for us. We’ve got some young guys. We’ve taken a few guys these past couple years. We’ve signed a couple undrafted free agents who have gotten a lot better, too. We like our inside backers. We think they’re getting better – they’re young players on the come. We didn’t see that as a big priority for us this year.”

Quality quarterbacks are rarely found among undrafted rookie free agents and to pass up on the opportunity of not drafting a talented quarterback in Taylor, with (perhaps) thoughts of making a major decision in the near future, was too much to pass up. 

Therefore, when Taylor steps on the field of play, he will being quarterbacking and that is what he was selected for, according general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

“No. 1, we drafted him as a quarterback, and he was evaluated as a quarterback by Craig (Ver Steeg, offensive assistant, quarterbacks coach) and Cam (Cameron, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach),” said Newsome.

“As far as him coming into our system, we feel like he has the skill sets to play the position and he also brings the added dimension of being a terrific athlete that can – as we see so much now – guys that can get out of the pocket and hurt people. He has the ability to do that also.”

Taylor does not lack the confidence of being a NFL quarterback, as he believes in his abilities and his willingness to learn.

"I believe I'm the most dynamic quarterback in the draft," said Taylor, according to NFL.com.

"I have the ability to move the pocket and keep the play alive, and I also have the ability to stay in the pocket and make every throw that they ask for. My style is kind of a mixture of all.

"I want to do whatever it takes to help the team and in the best situation. Most teams have talked to me as a quarterback. I'm evaluated as a quarterback. After talking to the Ravens' coaching staff, they look at me as a quarterback and want to mentor me and mature me as a quarterback."

In late-October, according to a source, the Ravens’ organization was concern with the development of Flacco

If this is true, Taylor could be the next man and if Joe Cool continues to struggle against the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially in the playoffs, the quarterback questions will flame up.

Chuck Pagano expressed his approach to the defense as being very aggressive when he was introduced as the team’s new defensive coordinator after Greg Mattison left the organization for the same position at the University of Michigan, shortly after the Steelers in the Divisional-Round eliminated the Ravens from the playoffs last season. 

So pursuing Asomugha, who is a legitimate shutdown cornerback, could be in the Ravens’ plans. 

If this is the case, the Ravens will have a critical decision to make. Asomugha will command top dollar, but probably would take a slight pay cut to play for a Super Bowl contender, which the Ravens are. With Ngata (who host the team’s franchise tag) waiting to be signed to a much deserve long-term deal, the Ravens most likely would not be position to sign both Flacco and Rice, a Pro Bowl running back. 

When the market for a top NFL quarterback is around $20 million per season and if Ngata is not signed by the end of the 2011 season with Asomugha possibility on the roster, someone will be out. 

Assuming that quarterback Marc Bulger will sign elsewhere, Taylor will be Flacco’s backup.  Drafting Taylor may signal a major change in the Ravens’ future plans, even if the Ravens are in the market for Asomugha, who can help Baltimore to win now with aging future Hall of Famers who are near to the end of their playing careers in linebacker Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. 

Stay tuned to this possible development.

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