Familiar college QBs an option for Ravens

Players likely available on 2nd day of draft, could fill team's 3rd-string role

April 23, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

If the Ravens look to fill their third-string quarterback void on the second day of this weekend's draft, chances are they will have their choice from a number of players who are familiar with the limelight.

Ohio State's Craig Krenzel, Louisiana State's Matt Mauck, Tennessee's Casey Clausen and Michigan's John Navarre figure to go anywhere from the fourth to the seventh round, and all could be interesting prospects for the Ravens.

Krenzel and Mauck have won national championships, while Clausen and Navarre regularly played in front of more than 100,000 fans when their teams were at home.

It's hard to imagine any of the four being overwhelmed by the NFL.

"There is no question that plays into it," said Ravens offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh. "Like most players, you always have to look at the competition they are playing against. When you've got guys coming from big-time programs that have been on center stage and performed well, that weighs heavily into it."

All are as recognizable as any names in college football. Popularity, though, means little when it comes to the NFL draft, and all likely will be bypassed on the first day for varying reasons.

Krenzel and Mauck can manage games well but have inaccurate arms, little touch on their passes and are limited in the types of throws they can make.

What they lack in natural ability, they make up for in guts.

"Krenzel is a guy who has played in big games and won the championship," said Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta. "Mauck from LSU is another guy who is smart, athletic, and we think he has a chance."

Clausen, too, has accuracy problems, and though he won his share of big games in hostile environments, he also was the root of many of the Volunteers' offensive woes. Clausen has below-average arm strength and can be clumsy in the pocket.

Still, with a little coaching, he might be good enough to win a roster spot with the Ravens.

"He is intelligent, quick on his feet and makes good decisions," DeCosta said of Clausen. "Those are the kind of guys that end up being good backup quarterbacks."

The quarterbacks with the most upside might be a pair from Michigan - the Wolverines' Navarre and Michigan State's Jeff Smoker.

Navarre is a big, strong-armed passer whose 72 career touchdown passes set a Michigan record. What he lacks in mobility, he makes up for in pocket awareness and the ability to hit short-to-intermediate throws consistently.

The same could be said for Smoker, who battled back from off-the-field personal problems to become a starter again last season and complete 61.9 percent of his throws for 3,395 yards and 21 touchdowns. Smoker, though, is as much of a statue as Navarre.

Even with the duo's lack of mobility, the Ravens likely would have to use a fourth- or fifth-round pick to guarantee getting one of the two.

"I think there are a lot of quarterbacks on the second day that will look at us as being a very attractive team," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "That third spot is just sitting there wide-open. It's a guy that doesn't have to come in with a lot of expectations.

"We feel very good about Kyle [Boller] and Anthony [Wright]. We know those are our two guys going forward, so we have the latitude to get a young guy in here."

In a more likely scenario, the Ravens will wait until the sixth or seventh round and select a player who does not have the physical tools of a Navarre or Smoker but could be their equal in big-game experience and has mobility.

"The bottom line is you still have to evaluate their talent," Cavanaugh said. "Because a guy played in a big-time program and won a lot of games and played in front of big crowds is really a product of their program. That doesn't translate into him being a great player. He's still has to have the ability - have a good arm, be smart, athletic, all those things have to still be there, too.

"There are some guys on the board that come from good programs that we don't think that highly of because their talent isn't there."

Quarterback outlook

The quarterbacks who might be available for the Ravens on the second day of the draft:

Name, School Ht. Wt. Skinny

Craig Krenzel, Ohio State 6-3 228 Won national title (2002). Inaccurate thrower gets by on moxie.

Matt Mauck, LSU 6-1 228 Won national title (2003). Gets by with on-field smarts.

Jeff Smoker, Michigan State 6-3 223 Overcame off-field problems to become solid QB.

Casey Clausen, Tennessee 6-3 223 Plays well on road, but never totally lived up to expectations.

John Navarre, Michigan 6-5 246 Has accuracy to be next Wolverines QB to star in NFL.

Later-round picks

Luke McCown, Louisiana Tech; Cody Pickett, Washington; Rod Rutherford, Pittsburgh; B.J. Symons, Texas Tech; Ell Roberson, Kansas State.

Quarterback picks The Ravens' history of drafting quarterbacks:

Player Year Round

Jon Stark 1996 7th

Wally Richardson 1997 7th

Chris Redman 2000 3rd

Wes Pate 2002 7th

Kyle Boller 2003 1st

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