Director of player personnel Eric DeCosta gave Joe Flacco a little bit of a homework assignment a few months ago, before the lockout began. But don't worry, it was a good kind of homework - if there is such a thing.
DeCosta handed Flacco a list of six wide receivers that he felt would get taken in the mid-rounds, and asked the Ravens' quarterback to evaluate the group.
Flacco studied some tape, ranked the six receivers, and came back to DeCosta with his thoughts.
The guy at the top of Flacco's list was the receiver the Ravens selected with their fourth-round pick, Indiana wide receiver Tandon Doss.
"What (Flacco) liked about him was that he caught the ball away from his body," DeCosta said last night in the Ravens' post-draft press conference. "He was tough and he was very physical. He made the comment that he looked like the kind of guy who was easy to throw the ball to. That kind of stuck with me. That did come up today in the draft room before we made the pick."
When you talk to football people who have evaluated Doss, the common theme seems to be that the Indiana product has great hands and is able to adjust on throws that aren't perfectly on the money.
For a quarterback, having a guy like that is always a plus.
It's also a plus that the Ravens are asking for Flacco's help in making personnel decisions, and that they gave him a guy who he'll enjoy throwing to.
It hasn't been the smoothest last few months between quarterback and organization. Flacco was none-too-pleased when the Ravens fired quarterback coach Jim Zorn, a guy with whom he had a good working relationship. Then, the front office frustrated Flacco by making it clear that they weren't looking to give him a contract extension this year, and instead wanted him to wait until after the 2011 campaign before getting a new deal.
The Ravens also have been knocked for not giving Flacco - who has taken them to three straight playoff appearances in his first three NFL seasons - more of a decision-making role in the offense. That criticism usually comes when talking about on-field matters, as Flacco doesn't seem to audible or make adjustments at the line of scrimmage as often as many established quarterbacks around the league.
The assignment that DeCosta gave to Flacco, and the subsequent pick of Doss, who Flacco wanted, are good signs. It might seem like a small thing, but the more input that Flacco is given in constructing this offense, the better.
You want your quarterback to feel comfortable when under center, both in terms of personnel and scheme, and the story behind the selection of Doss helps in both areas. The more settled that Flacco is in Cam Cameron's offense, the better chance he, and this unit, has to take the next step.