QBs unlikely to get early draft call

Pennington best of lot

Ravens eye 3rd-stringer

April 14, 2000|By Mike Preston and Jamison Hensley | Mike Preston and Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

If the Ravens had had the No. 5 overall pick a year ago, they might have selected one of college football's top quarterbacks. But with the market pretty bare in 2000, the team might try to find a sleeper in the mid-to-late rounds.

The Ravens quarterback situation is in much better shape than it was a year ago, with veteran Tony Banks the starter after playing in the final 10 games last year and leading the Ravens to an 8-8 record. The Ravens rewarded Banks with a four-year, $18.5 million contract in February and then signed veteran Trent Dilfer to a one-year deal as a backup in early March.

Who is No. 3?

"We're sitting here right now very comfortable with our quarterback position," said Ravens coach Brian Billick. "We have two quarterbacks under contract with Tony Banks and with Trent Dilfer. I would like to get Stoney Case back under contract but he's probably waiting to see what we're going to do in the draft. Finding a No. 3 quarterback is clearly something we want to address."

Last year, five of the top 12 selections in the draft were quarterbacks. This year, only two have been labeled as potential starters, Marshall's Chad Pennington and Louisville's Chris Redman.

Pennington threw for 38 touchdowns and 4,006 yards in guiding Marshall to a 13-0 record last season. He had 123 career touchdowns and more than 13,143 passing yards at Marshall. His biggest strength is his knowledge of the game. While other quarterbacks wore wristbands with plays written on them at the Senior Bowl in January, Pennington learned the playbook in one night.

"He is one of the smartest, more cerebral signal callers to come down the pike in recent years," said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. "He can throw all the various types of passes and shows better mobility and speed than people give him credit for."

Redman finished as the NCAA's all-time leader in completions with 1,031 and attempts at 1,679, and passed for 12,541 yards at Louisville. A lot of scouts feel that he is just as good as Pennington, but Pennington is considered to be a better athlete. Redman's latest time in the 40-yard dash was 5.37, compared to 4.88 for Pennington.

"Interestingly, both are coach's sons," said Billick. "Much like we talked about Brandon Stokley [Ravens receiver] last year, these are two guys who have grown up at the dinner table talking football every night of their lives, you can sense that about them. There is a great deal of maturity about them, a good solid insight about the game.

"After those two top names, it falls into a category where beauty is going to be in the eyes of the beholder," said Billick. "There is going to be some value whether it's in the second round or all the way down to the seventh."

After the first round, the next cluster of quarterbacks have a clear mixture of strengths and weaknesses.

Georgia Tech's Joe Hamilton can create with his quickness, but some question the effectiveness of a 5-foot-10 quarterback in the pocket. Tennessee's Tee Martin won 22 of 24 games in college, including a national championship, yet has the habit of forcing passes.

"Tee Martin, with his athleticism, does not have a great deal of experience," Billick said. "However, all you have to do is watch him play and realize this guy is a winner and will bring that dynamic with him into the NFL."

Marc Bulger from West Virginia is more of a prototypical drop-back passer, hitting receivers on second and third reads. He could be drafted from the second to sixth round because of concerns over his back soreness and knee problems that sidelined him for most of his senior season.

The wild card remains Hofstra's Giovanni Carmazzi, who threw for 9,371 yards and 71 touchdowns in four years. A Rhodes scholar as a senior, he has size at 6-2, 224 pounds to go along with arm strength and mobility. But some observers question if he was just a product of the Flying Dutchmen's run-and-shoot attack.

"[Carmazzi] is a very intelligent quarterback," Billick said. "Some of the parts for this young man may not equal the whole. By that, I mean that he is a fine athlete, good arm and good vision. However, his productivity has exceeded his physical abilities."

The quarterbacks that should be available in the middle rounds include one prospect on the rise, Michigan's Tom Brady, and another on the decline, Tim Rattay of Louisiana Tech.

Although overshadowed by other quarterbacks exhibiting more physical flair, Brady has such valuable intangibles as intelligence and attitude. He also became the second quarterback in Wolverines history to pass for more than 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

Rattay has the statistics as well, finishing second on the NCAA's all-time passing list. However, he could struggle in a pro-style system with average arm strength and unfavorable size at 6 feet, 215 pounds.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.