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Penn State QB Trace McSorley brings versatility to Ravens

McSorley earned second-team All-Big Ten selection twice and is a Penn State record-holder in multiple passing categories.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Kentucky vs Penn State Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

With the selection of Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley in the sixth round (197th overall), Baltimore is bringing in a player who can play multiple positions on offense. New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill is the blueprint for what McSorley can do, using his speed to play quarterback, wide receiver and play special teams.

When brought in for Baltimore’s local pro day, McSorley was put through the gauntlet of grueling workouts. The majority of his time was spent throwing passes and he believes that he can do the same in the NFL.

“My main thing is I feel like I can be a quarterback and that’s my goal coming in is to compete and play the quarterback position,” McSorley said via conference call. “But I also know that I can do some other things for a team if given the opportunity. So, I’m ready to go and compete and anything the coaches ask me to do, I’m ready to get to work.

“I know I can do a lot of different things on the football field to make the team successful and Im looking forward to getting that opportunity and getting into the facility this next week and being able to prove that.”

McSorley took over the starting quarterback spot from the departed Christian Hackenberg in 2016. In that season, the then-21-year old completed 58% of his passes for 3,614 yards (258.1 y/g), 29 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in 14 games. He continued to up the ante in 2017, increasing his completion rate to 67%, with 3,570 yards (274.6 y/g), 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 13 games.

Once being thought of as a surefire mid-round prospect, McSorley lost Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki and Daeson Hamilton, among others, to the draft. He also lost his offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead prior to the season — who took a job as the head coach of Mississippi State. His line saw injuries and McSorley played much of the season on a banged up knee and suffered injury late in the season.

The numbers in 2018 took a massive dip. He threw for just 2,530 yards, 18 touchdowns, had seven interceptions at a paltry 53% completion rate. McSorley had to rehab his image as a quarterback after having a tough season. For him, the Senior Bowl, the combine and his Pro Day were the most important things to focus on as a future pro.

In the Senior Bowl, McSorley finished 7-for-13 passing for 59 yards and had an eight-yard rush, playing the majority of the second quarter. His highlight came on a 16-play, 77-yard drive that gave the North a field goal. Then in the combine, McSorley ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, had a 33-inch vertical leap, a 115.0-inch broad jump, a 7.09 three-cone drill and a 4.12 20-yard shuttle. Not too shabby, considering that Khalil Mack had a 7.08 three-cone drill.

McSorley would then workout at Penn State’s Pro Day, putting together a strong showing. He would only have four incompletions the entire day. However, one scout wanted him to work out as a safety. He would impress Baltimore enough that they drafted him as primarily a quarterback.

With that being said, he could also play in the special teams role that is similar to Hill’s. Over his four-year career with the Nittany Lions, McSorley rushed for 1,697 yards and 30 touchdowns. He took off a lot during his senior year, rushing for 798 yards and 12 touchdowns. That speed could allow him to fit in as a special teams player — whether it is as a gunner or even a return man.

“The biggest thing [we talked about with Baltimore coaches] was the focus was still at the quarterback position — was kind of what they feel like I can do from there,” said McSorley. “But then it was really competing for if I’m in a backup role and being one of those guys that can maybe do a couple other things. Those things that I can be able to come in and provide support for the organization.

“So, that was the main thing. It really wasn’t anything too specific that was talked about, but if the opportunity is given, I think I can take advantage of it.”

In the sense of certain coaches wanting him to change his position, he feels a kinship to Ravens starting quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson was also asked to move around, with some scouts seeing his playmaking ability to be a better fit at receiver beofre last year’s NFL Draft.

McSorley has known Jackson for a few years now, meeting him at the Maxwell Awards. He was glowing in his praise of Baltimore’s starter.

“He’s a great dude, obviously an awesome competitor and he’s got a similar [situation] where a lot of people said he might want to change positions and he stuck to his guns and now ended up leading them to the playoffs last year.

“I think he’s a tremendous athlete, dynamic player, great leader and I’m looking forward to being able to learn from him and being able to get in the room and be a guy in the room that will help lead this team to a championship level. I remember when he was being drafted, [Jackson was] talking about winning Super Bowls and I think that’s kind of the same sort of mentality that I want to approach this thing with.”

Much can be said about Baltimore selecting a quarterback in the sixth round after picking Jackson or nothing at all. One thing is for sure, Baltimore has added a player in McSorley who can provide a similar skillset to Jackson and Robert Griffin III’s in the ability to extend plays, run read options and keep the opposition off-balance.

“I think it fits my skillset pretty well, obviously the athletic part,” McSorley said of Baltimore’s offensive gameplan. “The athleticism that really everyone in the room has — not just Lamar, but Robert Griffin and all those guys. So, I can come in and be another one of those guys in that room that can kind of fit into those spots. I’m just looking forward to all the athletes that they have.

“I think it’s going to be a fun offense and we’re going to be able to do some good things. I’m just looking forward to getting in and getting the playbook and getting to work.”