Ravens Rookies: Keith Wenning will compete for QB2

The Ravens are going to give Tyrod Taylor some legitimate competition for the backup quarterback role after selecting Keith Wenning out of Ball State in the sixth round of the draft.

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Wenning has been a full time starter for the last three years, and most of his freshman season as well. He got a little better each year and finished his career with 92 passing TDs, 13 rushing TDs, 42 INTs, 11,402 yards and a 63% completion percentage. Wenning notched 40 total TDs to just seven INTs in his senior season, and is on a pretty elite list of only one of 33 Division I FBS quarterbacks in history to amass 90 passing TDs.

Numbers are all well and good, but they don’t directly translate to NFL success. What skills does he bring to Baltimore? Let’s take a look.

Keith Wenning (#10) stands 6’2”, 218lbs. He’s more of a traditional passing QB rather than the scrambling type that Tyrod Taylor is. But he does possess the athleticism that gives him the ability to move. Here you’ll see a nice example of Wenning rolling out of the pocket and making the toughest throw, falling away from your throwing arm and getting it down the field. Great job of squaring the shoulders. It’s on the money, the receiver just forgot his hands.

Again with the roll out, and puts a nice touch on this pass over the lurking LB.

A little deeper of a ball, against tight coverage, he drops it right in the bucket. This pass has to be perfect for his man to reel it in. Thrown behind him it’s picked off, thrown ahead it takes him out of bounds.

Here is a quality I like to see from quarterbacks. Don’t telegraph your intentions. Wenning does a nice job of looking right, the DB on the left cheats that way, and Wenning comes back to the left to a wide open receiver. Tom Brady does this on almost every pass. Looks one way, knowing exactly where his guy will be when he looks back to the other side.

Of course, we have to show you the bad. This is just an inexcusable INT. To be fair, of the game tapes I watched, this was his only real bad misstep. We have seen Joe Flacco throw the same pick a number of times. You get tunnel vision, looking down field, locked onto one receiver; you just don’t see the defender right in front of you.

Bottom line: Wenning has plenty of experience. What I really like about him is that he is comfortable playing in the style of offense we’ll expect from Gary Kubiak. A lot of play action, a lot of bootleg passes. Wenning is accurate when throwing on the run. He shows a soft touch on his passes, but it also appears he lacks velocity on his short passes. His tape shows him throwing a lot of short passes, screens, slants. A lot of times guys are pretty open so his passes are easier to complete. There no reason to fire bullets in there. I’m not sure whether or not he can thread the needle between much quicker defenders at the NFL level that will close the windows in a blink of an eye.

The big question is what does this mean for Tyrod Taylor? The Ravens have options. They can carry three quarterbacks for the first time in a long time. They always invite a Caleb Hainie or Curtis Painter to try out, but they never make the team. If they carry three QBs, who is the player that would normally make the 53-man roster that will now be left off? A special teamer that coach John Harbaugh covets?

Taylor can beat out Wenning for the job and play/ride the bench for the final year of his rookie contract. Wenning’s $104K in dead money from his signing bonus would go on the salary cap.

Wenning can beat out Taylor for the job. Tyrod Taylor only accounts for $26K in dead money and the Ravens would save $645K in cap space. Releasing Taylor and keeping Wenning would save the Ravens about $200K against the cap.  

In my opinion, Keith Wenning has to be the answer. It’s obvious from the tape that he has the characteristics of a West Coast offense, Gary Kubiak QB. They drafted him for a reason. There should be some continuity between the two QBs should the starter have to come out. With Wenning, it’s a seamless transition which benefits everyone on the offense. With Taylor, the scrambling, the designed options, QB draws, it’s like adding new pages to the playbook and it takes everyone out of their comfort zone.

At the end of the day, Tyrod Taylor is just not a worthy candidate to step in if heaven forbid the Ravens iron man, Joe Flacco, misses any time. We aren’t sure if Wenning is worthy either. But I like my chances with a rookie with some potential over a known, sub-par player.

Game tape courtesy of draftbreakdown.com

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About the author

Mike Randall   

Ravens Analyst

Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently resides in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010. Mike has appeared as a guest on Q1370. Now a Sr. Ravens Analyst for BSL, he be reached at mike.randall@baltimoresportsandlife.com.

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