What Tom Flacco will bring to an NFL team

By: Jordan Kendall, Sports Editor

Former Towson quarterback Tom Flacco is one of the prospects hoping to be drafted in this year’s NFL Draft. The draft starts on Thursday, April 23 and goes until Saturday, April 25. 

If selected, he would be the first Tiger drafted since cornerback Tye Smith in 2015. Right now, it seems unlikely he will be, but he has interest and should get an opportunity. Since I’ve covered and watched him the last two seasons, I wanted to give my thoughts on what he can do at the next level. I’m not a scout, but here are thoughts on Flacco.

Don’t think about Joe

Yes, he’s the younger brother of former Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, but his playstyle isn’t anything close to what Joe does. Tom is a dual-threat quarterback who isn’t afraid to take shots both with his arm and legs. He reminds me of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson early in his career when Flacco scrambles. 

There were times when he would be 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage and would throw the ball across his body for a first down. He could also turn upfield and has underrated speed and a unique ability to make defenders miss. When he runs, he reminds me of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. He isn’t as fast as Murray, but he has the quickness and acceleration to turn upfield and make plays on his own.

As a passer, he’s got a gunslinger type of mentality. He isn’t afraid to take chances, and he reminds me of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes because of it. Flacco has made some throws that remind me of Mahomes, but he isn’t nearly as special as the Chiefs signal caller. 

That’s not a bad thing since Mahomes is unlike anyone we’ve seen possibly ever. It seemed that at least once a game he would make a play that had the crowd and myself in awe of what just happened. Flacco has a good arm and knack for throwing deep balls, sometimes he slightly overthrows receivers but he has the arm to get it downfield. He mostly relies on short and intermediate passes, but he isn’t afraid to take a shot downfield if he sees it. 

I think Flacco prefers to be outside the pocket, but I saw improvement when he had time and didn’t feel forced to scramble last season. Overall, I think he can provide value to an NFL team, but there are also some things that he needs to work on.

Tom not-so Terrific

Going back to the idea of him scrambling behind the line and making these incredible plays, most of the time this happened, it didn’t end well. This was especially true in 2018, it seemed that when Flacco scrambled, he rushed a decision and ended up making a poor one. 

I can remember multiple plays where he scrambles right, avoids a sack and then throws it across his body and was intercepted. Many of these ended great drives for Towson and were in games the Tigers lost. As I said before, he isn’t afraid to take chances but sometimes it got the best of him. 

Another thing I noticed last season was when Flacco scrambled, there would be a defender in his face and instead of throwing it away, he’d continue to try and get away. Frequently, this ended in a big sack that killed any momentum the Tigers had. He appeared more comfortable in the pocket last season, but I believe he’ll need to continue working on it at the next level. 

The edge rushers he’s going to face in the NFL are significantly better than those he faced in college. If he can’t trust himself to win in the pocket, I don’t think Flacco can rely on scrambling as he did for Towson. There were plays where he looked comfortable, but there were also ones where it seemed like he would panic and not make the best decision.

I believe the positives outweigh the negatives for Flacco. If he’s in the right system with a coach who is willing to be creative with his talent, I believe he can succeed in the NFL. Right now, he’s probably a third-string or practice squad type of player who will have to earn his way on the field. 

I think he could be someone to watch for in the preseason, small school players like him usually take advantage of that opportunity. A few teams I think would be interesting fits for him are the Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, and Los Angeles Rams. 

All three of these teams have creative head coaches who I think could figure out a way to use him. He’s been compared to Saints quarterback Taysom Hill for his athleticism and potential to switch to other positions, but I believe he’s a quarterback. I’ve enjoyed watching him for the last two years and look forward to seeing what he does in the NFL.

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