One question that emerges like sunscreen each August is whether the Ravens will keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. As with many other aspects of this Ravens offense, that question comes with a twist this year, as rookie quarterback Trace McSorley would represent a departure from the traditional clipboard-holding third-stringer.
In the John Harbaugh era, the Ravens have rarely opened the season with three quarterbacks on the roster, given Joe Flacco’s durability; Flacco didn’t miss a game during his first seven seasons. But last year, Flacco, Lamar Jackson and Robert Griffin III were all included on the initial 53-man roster, the first time since 2009 the Ravens opted to keep three quarterbacks.
So while history might not be on McSorley’s side, speed and versatility are.
The Ravens made speed a priority in this draft, and McSorley registering the fastest 40-yard dash time (4.57) among quarterbacks at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine surely weighed in his selection.
General manager Eric DeCosta said that any quarterback the Ravens drafted would need to be able to fill “multiple roles,” and after selecting McSorley, DeCosta said, “We brought him in as a quarterback, but we think his skill set really does fit with what we’re trying to accomplish on offense, and he has the potential to do some other things.”
Comparisons quickly arose between McSorley and New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Taysom Hill, whose versatility was on display against the Ravens last season. In the Saints’ 24-23 win at M&T Bank Stadium, Hill played 26 plays on offense and 20 on special teams. He had six carries for 35 yards, including 4 yards on a successful fake punt.
With the Saints last year, Hill at various points lined up at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, running back, kick returner and elsewhere on special teams.
“You saw what the Saints have done down there with their third quarterback,” Harbaugh said shortly after the Ravens selected McSorley. “That’s something that we’ll have a chance to do, too, with Trace. He’s going to play some special teams as well. The more you can do [the better].”
At 6 feet and 202 pounds, McSorley doesn’t have the size of Hill (6-foot-2, 221), but it’s clear the Saints’ usage of Hill piqued the Ravens’ interest.
At OTA and minicamp workouts, McSorley could be seen in the black jersey of the quarterbacks taking part in individual throwing drills and running the offense, but he also frequently worked on various special teams units.
Given his fairly local ties as a Virginia native and former Penn State star, McSorley figures to be a popular figure at training camp when it begins later this month, and he should get the bulk of quarterback duty in the Ravens four training camp games. That will give the Ravens every opportunity to evaluate his NFL readiness. If McSorley makes the team and is a special teams contributor, it’s possible he would be the No. 2 quarterback on game day if the Ravens, as usual, choose to keep just two quarterbacks in uniform.
McSorley, who set Penn State career records for passing yards (9,899) and rushing yards by a quarterback (1,697), said during rookie minicamp, “Wherever I can fit in and help this team win games and be able to compete at the highest level … that’s what I want to do. I’m definitely excited to try and see what else I can do out there and get on the field anywhere I can.”
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