OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Would the Baltimore Ravens really draft a quarterback in the first round this year?
Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta didn't make it sound like the Ravens are primed to select a quarterback with the No. 16 overall pick, but he also doesn't rule it out.
"I feel like if there is a guy there that we think is really too good to pass up, we're going to take him," DeCosta told the Ravens' team website.
The chances of Baltimore selecting a quarterback in the first round have never been considered great, based on previous comments by Ravens officials.
Last month, owner Steve Bisciotti shot down the notion that the Ravens were beginning to think about life after quarterback Joe Flacco, saying, "We've got bigger fish to fry." In January, coach John Harbaugh was the first to indicate the team could draft a quarterback this year but said the Ravens would be "looking for a young backup."
The future of the Ravens' quarterback position has become an increasingly hot topic. Baltimore is only financially committed to Flacco through this season, which means the Ravens can move on from the struggling former Super Bowl MVP in 2019.
Asked how soon is too soon to draft a quarterback, DeCosta said, "If we really like the guy and he's there, it's not soon enough."
DeCosta predicted four or five quarterbacks will get drafted in the first round this year, especially after the impact made by Philadelphia's Carson Wentz and Houston's Deshaun Watson. USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Louisville's Lamar Jackson are considered the top quarterbacks in this year's draft, and it's possible none will be available when Baltimore is on the clock.
The Ravens haven't drafted a quarterback in the first round in a decade. The last time was Flacco in 2008, when he guided Baltimore to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie.
"When you see certain franchises, their fortune really turns around quickly with a quarterback," DeCosta said. "We were a great example of that in 2008 and 2009. But when you see these teams that are able to do that, whether it's the Philadelphia Eagles or Houston Texans last year, you start to see the success that these guys have early on as young players and you see how it just shapes the entire franchise."
Flacco, 33, is now among the 10 oldest starting quarterbacks in the NFL. But the concern with Flacco isn't his age, it's his declining performance.
He ranks No. 36 in passer rating since winning the Super Bowl. He has thrown 98 touchdowns and 74 interceptions over the past five seasons.
This is why a few mock drafts have linked Baltimore to a quarterback. NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, a former Ravens scout, predicted Baltimore would go with Mayfield.
"It basically depends on our evaluation and how we feel about the guy, what we think he can become as a player and what we think his upside is and if he's there," DeCosta said.