2010 Spotlight Players: Joe Flacco, QB

Contributed by: Michael Courter
Last Updated: Aug 20, 2010 10:29 AM

Joe Flacco, Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens

(6-6, 230)

Age: 25

Experience: 3rd season

College: University of Delaware

Draft Status: 1st Round of the 2008 Draft, the 18th overall selection- Baltimore Ravens

Hailing from an athletic family (Joe's brother Mike was drafted in the 31st round of the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft by the Baltimore Orioles) Joe starred for the Green Wave of Audubon High School in Audubon, NJ, and was labeled a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and ranked 29th on the overall quarterback prospect list of the class of 2003. He would accept a scholarship from the University of Pittsburgh and, after redshirting his freshman year, found limited playing time behind starter Tyler Palko, appearing in three games and recording one completion for 11 yards. Flacco opted for a fresh start, and a more immediate opportunity to play at Division I-AA Delaware, but he was unable to gain a release from his scholarship at Pitt, making him ineligible at Delaware for the 2005 season.  Finally able to see the field in 2006, Flacco put up respectable numbers with close to 3,000 yards passing, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but his Blue Hens would finish 5-6 and out of the playoffs that year. Flacco would turn the 2007 season, his final collegiate campaign, into his finest hour as a quarterback, setting 20 school records as he led Delaware to an 8-3 record and an amazing playoff run to the Football Championship Series finale where the Blue Hens would fall to Appalachian State by the score of 49-21. Flacco was considered one of college football's most accurate passers as he amassed 3,300 yards with 18 touchdowns and only five interceptions.  Flacco drew national attention with his 400-yard, four touchdown performance against the Naval Academy, but he was already on the radar of NFL scouts, who had him rated as a 7th round prospect before the 2007 season began. Flacco collected numerous awards after the 2007 season including the ECAC Player of the Year, All CAA First Team, and CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year.

His outstanding senior season helped earn him an invitation to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL, the preeminent all-star game for NFL evaluators.  It was at the Senior Bowl where Flacco's stock took off amongst what was considered a fairly thin quarterback class that included Matt Ryan, John David Booty, Colt Brennan and Chad Henne. In Senior Bowl practices, Flacco thrived against defensive stars from Division I powerhouses including Ohio State, USC, LSU, answering any small-school competition questions that NFL decision-makers had about him. Flacco went from the Senior Bowl to the Combine where he cemented his potential first-round draft status by wowing NFL executives in the interviews and passing drills while exceeding all the measureable requirements with his 6-6, 230 pound frame, and his forty yard dash time of 4.84.  The Baltimore Ravens wasted no time in selecting the former Delaware Blue Hen as the 18th overall pick in the 2008 Draft, making Flacco the first FCS quarterback taken in the first round of the NFL Draft since Steve McNair was chosen by the Houston Oilers as the third overall pick in 1995.

It was as if the football gods knew they needed to move the chess pieces in a certain way to make room for the rookie to shine as the Ravens starter at the time, Kyle Boller, suffered a season-ending injury before training camp ended, and backup Troy Smith fell ill just long enough for Flacco to assume starting quarterback duties for the 2008 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.  Flacco would handle himself well, managing the game, and a Ravens 17-3 win, with 15 of 29 completed passes for 129 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions, while adding a 38-yard touchdown scamper, the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in Ravens history.  Flacco would provide a veteran presence beyond his years, and the poise of a 10-year veteran while guiding the Ravens to an 11-5 record and wildcard playoff berth, a complete about-face from 2007's dismal 5-11 record.  Flacco wasn't finished in the regular season, becoming the first rookie quarterback to win his first post-season start, the first to accomplish that on the road, and the first rookie QB to win two playoff games while leading the Ravens to the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite not a single 300-yard passing game, the dramatic turnaround in the win-loss column and his season totals of 2,971 yards, 16 touchdowns (14 passing, 2 running) and 12 interceptions helped Flacco earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors.     


2009 RECAP:

Though the team took a step back with a 9-7 record and first round playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Flacco made a progressive step statistically in his second year, increasing his passing yards to 3,613, almost 1,000 yard gain over his rookie year, 21 touchdowns (versus 14 last year), and 12 interceptions, with three 300+yard passing games and six contests of two touchdowns or more.  An impressive stat line when you consider the Ravens played arguably the most difficult schedule in the league against the pass and Flacco's No.1 target was 36-year old Derrick Mason, who had to be talked out of retiring prior to the start of the season. His best games were against Kansas City (307 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), Cleveland (342 yards, 1 TD), @ Minnesota (385, 2 TDs) and Chicago (234, 4 TDs).    


Flacco's fantasy football prospects have never looked brighter as he heads into the 2010 season. The Ravens finally acquired a true No.1 receiver for their offense in Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin (Cardinals), and also added downfield threat Donte Stallworth, who appears to be on the straight and narrow after several years of off-field difficulties. With these two additions to his receiving corps, the growing threat of Ray Rice as both a runner and receiver, and the Ravens widely considered to be a Super Bowl contender this season, it's not a stretch to envision Flacco recording 4,000+ passing yards and 25 touchdowns this year. And despite their share of difficult pass defenses, Flacco and the Ravens get three favorable fantasy playoff matchups during weeks 14-16 with games at Houston, home to New Orleans and at Cleveland, respectivley. With all these factors going in his favor, Flacco has surprisingly dropped into the late rounds of many mock drafts, making him a great bargain as a starter if you decide to wait on your QB while building up your running back and receiver depth, or as a quality backup with upside after pulling the trigger on Peyton Manning or Tom Brady earlier in your draft. 

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