Ravens likely to make a snap judgment on second day of draft

Team is hoping to land 3rd-string QB on Sunday

Focus: Quarterbacks

April 22, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

The Ravens are expected to fill their third-string quarterback void on the second day of the draft, a move the team hopes will still net a first-rate passer.

"Each guy has some things you like about him," Ravens director of college scouting Eric DeCosta said of the quarterback class. "Intangible-wise, they are all pretty good. It's some good picks. If you are in there in the fourth, fifth round and you need a third quarterback, you can probably find one."

One the Ravens have targeted, Harvard's Ryan Fitzpatrick, did not play in front of 80,000-plus crowds or against Southeastern Conference-like competition, but that matters little at this time of year.

Ravens officials see a player with good mobility, a live arm and, of course, smarts. Fitzpatrick led Harvard to an unbeaten season, completing 57.2 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions, and winning Ivy League Player of the Year honors.

Fitzpatrick's toughest opponent might have been Pennsylvania, but the Ravens are not holding that against him.

"It's been some good Ivy League quarterbacks who have made it, [Jason] Garrett and [Jay] Fiedler," DeCosta said. "Fitzpatrick is very intelligent as you would expect, but also a good player. He's been at the Hula Bowl, was at the East-West game and played well both weeks, tested pretty well. I've watched the kid play 10 games, watched him live, and he is a viable NFL quarterback. He will be in the league next year."

There is a good chance, according to DeCosta, that Connecticut's Dan Orlovsky will be in the NFL as well.

Orlovsky's 6-foot-4, 228-pound build is perfect for a pro, but his inconsistent performance last season is the reason most figure he will be available in the later rounds.

Leading an upstart Huskies program against a weaker Big East after the defections of Miami and Virginia Tech last season, Orlovsky threw 23 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.

He went on to struggle at Senior Bowl practices with his accuracy and pocket presence, likely slipping down some on a number of draft boards. The Ravens, though, go more by game footage than postseason tests.

"It was difficult going into a system like that and trying to learn it quickly and get adjusted to those routes, trying to mold yourself to what that coaching staff wants," Orlovsky said.

Whomever the Ravens draft will have the benefit of working with new offensive coordinator Jim Fassel and quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel, both considered to be top teachers.

"It's a huge asset because you're talking about two gentlemen in particular that have reputations for evaluating quarterback talent and developing it," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Rick, beyond his personal record with quarterbacks, with the job he had last year as a college TV analyst is very familiar with a lot of these guys and will add a great deal to our overall perspective on athletes."

The Ravens are in the situation of having to draft a quarterback after Josh Harris, whom the team took in the sixth round last year, was signed off the practice squad by the Browns.

Kordell Stewart is likely to sign elsewhere, leaving Anthony Wright and Kyle Boller under contract. But with the quality of depth at quarterback, drafting out of need isn't a bad position to be in.

"We like the quarterbacks," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "It's not out of the realm that we might take one with the fourth-round pick. We need another quarterback. Anthony is in his last year under contract. Fassel and Neuheisel have both done a good job working guys out and bringing that information back to us."

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