The Baltimore Ravens already have elite quarterback Joe Flacco and backup Tyrod Taylor on their roster, but with a sixth-round pick they grabbed Ball State star Keith Wenning. Although not as talked about as Johnny Manziel, Wenning might have the potential to replace Taylor as the Ravens’ No. 2 quarterback.
Wenning was a four-year starter and two-time team captain with Ball State, setting a number of records for the school that include 11,402 passing yards and 91 touchdowns. He brought a team who won just four games his freshman year to a team that went 10-3 last season. Wenning also led his team to ten fourth-quarter comebacks during his college career.
Wenning stands 6-foot-3 but weighs only 218 pounds, so he will need to strengthen up. He has excellent ball placement and arm strength, which would help receivers gain more yardage. With OTAs happening right now, he has a chance to impress early and learn how to fit right in with the Ravens’ offense.
At the combine, Wenning exhibited a 4.99-second 40-yard dash and proved to be highly competitive. He seems to struggle with deep passes and lacks some throwing flexibility, but his athleticism should improve through the offseason alongside Flacco. However, Flacco just had his worst season so far with 22 interceptions and just 19 touchdowns. Hopefully he is improving during this offseason, but if not then Wenning might need to show the world his intriguing accuracy.
There is no doubt that it will take time for Wenning to become active on the field, but he definitely brings competition for Taylor. Taylor will be a free agent after the 2014 season, so Wenning is capable of moving up more quickly than expected. Perhaps after some experience and growth, Wenning will be eligible to take Flacco’s spot when his contract ends in 2019. Of course that’s five years away, but it’s never too early to take the option into consideration.
Wenning is consistent and performs well under pressure, especially with tight windows or late in games. The Ravens could benefit from this because Flacco seems to be the opposite lately. There are many instances where the Ravens have struggled late in the game or with tight windows. If Wenning can enhance his throwing flexibility and athleticism, he will have no problem making the team. He can make a significant impact on the offensive line and will only progress after time.
I think Wenning’s determination, accuracy, and ability to work under pressure can add a new dimension to the offensive line. He most likely won’t have an opportunity to be a starter for a while, but the OTAs will really help him learn the playbook and how to execute his skills with the team. It will be interesting to see how he performs and progresses through the season with Flacco. I expect to see huge things from him in the future and hope the officials decide to give him a chance.
Focus seems to be on defense for the Ravens this offseason, but Wenning will surely catch attention during OTAs. Officials will have to make a tough decision in the upcoming months on whether to have one or two backup quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. Taylor does have experience and more running efficiency, but Wenning could prove to be a promising rookie.