Ravens think Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley 'could have a big role' on offense

(Allentown) Morning Call (TNS)
Trace McSorley

Penn State’s Trace McSorley sensed a quick kinship with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

They met two years ago at the Maxwell Awards, will be working together soon and have been similarly adamant about playing quarterback after college.

The Ravens on Saturday drafted McSorley in the sixth round, specifically calling him a quarterback but suggesting that McSorley could contribute in other ways. McSorley said he was ready for anything but, like Jackson, wants to play his first love first.

“A lot of of people said [Jackson] might want to change positions, but he stuck to his guns and he ended up leading [the Ravens] to the playoffs last year,” McSorley said on a conference call. “… I feel like I can be a quarterback. That’s my goal coming in, to compete and play the quarterback position. I also know that I can do some other things for this team if given the opportunity.”

McSorley got his chance Saturday, one of six Penn State players selected in the three-day NFL draft. The Philadelphia Eagles chose two of them: running back Miles Sanders (second round) and defensive end Shareef Miller (fourth round).

Offensive lineman Connor McGovern went to Dallas in the third round, cornerback Amani Oruwariye to Baltimore in the fifth round and safety Nick Scott to the Los Angeles Rams in the seventh.

McSorley drew high praise from Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who is developing a specific taste in quarterbacks. Along with Jackson, Baltimore signed Robert Griffin III to a two-year contract in March. McSorley will add his traits to that room.

Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta called McSorley a “sleeper pick" who fits what the team is doing offensively. “This is a great spot for him,” DeCosta said.

Harbaugh even suggested that McSorley could find opportunities on special teams, drawing a comparison to how the New Orleans Saints used quarterback Taysom Hill, and perhaps in some backfield packages alongside Jackson.

“I told him six weeks ago, ‘You’re going to be a quarterback.’ That’s where it begins,” Harbaugh said. "But it shouldn’t be limited to that. … You want players with roles, and he’s a guy who has a chance to have big role for us."

Connor McGovern ‘exactly’ who Dallas wanted: McGovern didn’t make a pre-draft visit to Dallas, which is why the phone call from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones surprised him so much.

Despite his limited contact with Dallas, McGovern was high on the team’s board. Coach Jason Garrett called McGovern the best player on their board when the 90th pick arrived.

“To me, he was a classic case of us doing our best to look up at our board and say, ‘Who’s the best player up there?’” Garrett said. “For us, he was by far the best player at that time.”

McGovern (“I’m living a surreal moment right now,” he said) brings durability and position flexibility to the Cowboys’ line. He started 35 games at Penn State over three years before leaving early for the NFL. Further, McGovern started full seasons at guard and center, a trait the Cowboys coveted as well.

“He’s exactly what we want in our offensive linemen,” Garrett said. "… The position flexibility is real. Having an interior guy who can play both [guard and center] is really valuable."

Noteworthy: With Oruwariye and Scott being selected, Penn State has had seven defensive backs drafted since 2015. That underscores the upgrade in secondary athleticism under head coach James Franklin.

Two players who left early were not drafted: offensive tackle Ryan Bates and defensive tackle Kevin Givens. They will head to rookie minicamps as free agents: Bates to Philadelphia and Givens to San Francisco.

Receiver DeAndre Thompkins was invited to Eagles rookie minicamp, becoming the fourth Penn State player headed to Philadelphia. The Atlanta Falcons invited long snapper Kyle Vasey to camp, and running back Johnathan Thomas was invited to Cincinnati.

Linebacker Koa Farmer, a California native, will attend Oakland Raiders rookie minicamp.