University of Delaware star Joe Flacco made football history yesterday in becoming the first NCAA BCS Division (formerly I-AA) quarterback to be taken in the first round of the NFL draft since Steve McNair in 1995.
Flacco, who led the Blue Hens to the BCS national championship game, was taken by the Baltimore Ravens as the 18th overall selection on the basis of his size (6-foot-6, 235 pounds), his smarts and rocket arm. He is widely viewed as the strongest and most accurate throwing quarterback among this year's crop.
As a Delaware season ticket holder, I watched Flacco mature into a field commander who never wilted under pressure. In two seasons at Delaware, Flacco completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 7,046 yards and 41 touchdowns against only 15 interceptions.
But succeeding in the NFL will be a whole other matter and few outstanding college quarterbacks at any level make it. Delaware has sent several quarterbacks to the pros, notably Rich Gannon, the former Oakland Raiders star, but most were cut or saw only limited playing time.
The Ravens quarterback job is considered wide open. Flacco will compete with another former first-round pick (19th overall) and former starter in Kyle Boller, entering his sixth season, and second-year player Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State.
In any event, good luck to Joe Flacco, who is truly a class act.
Photograph by Mark Campbell