What if Ravens had drafted Brady Quinn?

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
11:30
AM ET
When analyzing a draft for a team, the focus is usually on the players drafted. Sometimes, a team's fate is determined by the player it didn't draft.

Case in point: quarterback Brady Quinn told The NFL Network that the Baltimore Ravens were poised to draft him in the first round seven years ago.

[+] EnlargeBrady Quinn
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsBrady Quinn has played for several teams, but his NFL career never blossomed as expected.
"During that pick, I was on the phone with the Baltimore Ravens the entire time," Quinn said. "So, I was talking to [general manager] Ozzie Newsome ... coach [Brian] Billick and coach [Rick] Neuheisel, because I hadn't interviewed with them, hadn't worked out for them or anything."

The Ravens never got a chance to take Quinn because the Browns traded with the Dallas Cowboys to move up.

"So, all of a sudden, with like a minute left, I get a call from a 216 area code, which happened to be Cleveland," Quinn said. "And it was the Browns calling to tell me they were trading up to the 22nd pick. The Ravens were going to take me ... so I wasn't sure what to think."

What would have happened if the Ravens had drafted Quinn? There would be no Joe Flacco in Baltimore and likely no second Lombardi Trophy. Even the toughest Flacco critics would agree that the Ravens don't make that championship run in 2012 without Flacco doing his best Joe Montana impersonation (11 touchdowns, no interceptions).

The Ravens were in a position to draft Flacco in the first round in 2008 because they didn't make a commitment to a quarterback the previous year. In 2007, the only quarterback drafted by the Ravens was Troy Smith in the fifth round.

Some might suggest the Ravens would still have ended up with Flacco based on the team firing Billick at the end of the 2007 season. Many teams look to draft a quarterback in the same year they hires a new coach, and the Ravens might have followed the same path by pairing Flacco with John Harbaugh.

The Ravens' history suggests otherwise. Newsome doesn't give up on first-round picks easily. If the Ravens selected Quinn in the first round, it would have been another Kyle Boller situation. Remember the Ravens suffered through three years of Boller struggling as a starter before they traded for Steve McNair in 2006.

The drafting of Quinn would have kept the Ravens from being a perennial playoff team, just like Boller did. Quinn failed to beat out Derek Anderson and establish himself in Cleveland. Before you say Quinn would have had a better chance to succeed in Baltimore than Cleveland, he has bounced around with four teams (the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets and St. Louis Rams) in four years with no success. Quinn is currently a free agent.

Over the years, the Ravens have many reasons to thank Cleveland. They would not have Newsome if not for the Browns moving to Baltimore. They would not have Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata if not for the Browns allowing the Ravens to move up one spot to take him in 2006. And the Ravens would not have a second Super Bowl title if not for the Browns trading up to draft Quinn.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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