Ravens keep eye on Young

Team cautiously interested in Texas QB, whose draft stock has slipped

From The Cover

March 22, 2006|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

From his throwing motion to his ability to take snaps under center, the Ravens will be seeking answers when they attend Vince Young's Pro Day workout today in Austin, Texas.

Depending on the results, the next question regarding the University of Texas quarterback could come in next month's NFL draft.

If Young surprisingly falls to the 13th overall pick, will the Ravens take him? At this point, the Ravens will only say they are intrigued.

"He's not as clean a prospect as some other quarterbacks that have come out over the years, but his upside and ceiling are tremendous," said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of college scouting. "If you hit on him, you could have a trendsetter in the NFL."

Along with a throng of other NFL scouts and coaches headed to Austin, DeCosta and quarterbacks coach Rick Neuheisel will be dissecting Young, whose stock has fallen since leading the Rose Bowl upset over Southern California for the national championship.

Teams have grown wary of Young's low test scores, his near sidearm delivery and his adjustment from a shotgun offense. It's possible Young might drop behind quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler and out of the draft's top 10.

That slip could land him in the neighborhood of the Ravens, who could be looking for an alternative to inconsistent three-year starter Kyle Boller.

The Ravens want to see Young make the throws they haven't seen often on tape, like the 20-yard comeback route. They want to see how he handles snaps under center, which forces him to view the field from a different vantage point. And they want to see him work in the pocket instead of his improvised scrambling.

This will be the first time that NFL teams get a close look at Young because he didn't work out at last month's scouting combine.

"Because he hasn't thrown the ball yet, people don't know what they have in Vince Young," DeCosta said. "That will be a very important piece of the puzzle for all the teams that are considering him."

Besides the physical aspect of the game, there are questions about how Young will adjust to the mental part of it.

Young reportedly performed poorly on a Wonderlic test at the combine, scoring a 6 out of 50. He retook the aptitude test a day later and reportedly scored a 16.

"In regards specifically to Vince, I'm not concerned about it," DeCosta said. "He plays smart when you watch him. He makes good decisions on tape. Anytime you get a low test score, you think about it and try to find evidence that a guy struggles on the field. In Vince's specific case, I haven't seen many instances where he makes critical mistakes in important situations."

Young certainly rose to the occasion in the Rose Bowl, passing for 267 yards and rushing for 200. That's why there will be several teams tempted to take Young so high in the draft.

Four teams in the top 10 - the Tennessee Titans (No. 3), New York Jets (No. 4), Oakland Raiders (No. 7) and Arizona Cardinals (No. 10) - have been linked to Young at some point. Plus, the Minnesota Vikings are expected to try to jump from No. 17 to select a quarterback.

"The biggest thing is: Can he throw the ball effectively, can he manage the game in the pocket and can he make all the throws? If he can do that, he's going to be a very high pick because he's a very intriguing athlete," DeCosta said.

"When you watch him, it's like watching a playground basketball game with some of the things he does with the football. His ability to make a play when things break down is what separates him from a lot of players at that position."

Notes -- General manager Ozzie Newsome said the Ravens have no free-agent visits scheduled, but that doesn't mean the team is finished in free agency. "There are still some positions that we are still looking at," he said. "We're waiting for the market to settle a little bit." The Ravens have needs at quarterback, safety and punter. ... In one of his rare public statements, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was among those who praised outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "He'll be a tough act to follow," Bisciotti said. "Personally, I thank him for making my entrance into the NFL welcoming and smooth. Anyone who likes our game should tip his hat to Commissioner Tagliabue." ... Despite announcing his plans to remain the Ravens' president, Dick Cass ranks as the No. 3 favorite to succeed Tagliabue, according to two sports betting Web sites. He is behind NFL chief operating officer Roger Goodell and Atlanta Falcons general manager Rich McKay and ahead of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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