Few players will receive more scrutiny during Thursday night’s preseason games than Tyrod Taylor.
By most accounts, the fourth-year Ravens quarterback has underperformed as Joe Flacco’s backup — so much so that the team has explored other options for their No. 2 spot on the depth chart.
New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has been impressed with Taylor’s play so far in camp, but the former Virginia Tech star has plenty to prove when the Ravens host the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason opener for both teams.
Here’s what you need to know about him:
1. He’s in the Last Year of His Rookie Contract
The Ravens drafted Taylor in the sixth round (180th overall pick) of the 2011 draft and signed him to a four-year, $2.1 million rookie contract that expires at the end of this season.
Joe Flacco has started every game since the Ravens drafted Taylor, so the Virginia Tech product has played sparingly. He’s appeared in only 13 games over his first three years in the league, completing 19 of 35 passes (54.3 percent) with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a sub-par quarterback rating of 47.2.
2. The Ravens Drafted Keith Wenning to Add Quarterback Depth
Baltimore drafted Ball State’s Keith Wenning in the sixth round this past spring, giving them another option for the top backup job.
Wenning, a four-year starter at Ball State, set the school’s career passing record last year while leading the Cardinals to a 10-3 record and a win in the Motor City Bowl. He’s likely to come in Thursday night after Flacco and Taylor.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley notes that it’s been hard to gauge the team’s confidence level in Taylor. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has had good things to say about Taylor’s play in camp, but coach John Harbough said last spring that he was “disappointed” in Taylor’s play, and before drafting Wenning, the team showed interest in signing free agent QB Brandon Weeden, who ended up signing with the Cowboys.
3. He’s Gotten Good Reviews From Gary Kubiak
Kubiak, in his first year as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator, has installed a West Coast offense that Kubiak says is a good fit for the versatile Taylor.
Kubiak told the team’s website that he’s been “very impressed” with the play of Taylor, who recently led the second-string offense to a victory over Flacco and the first-teamers in a scrimmage.
Here’s how Kubiak put it:
Ty really bought into what we’re doing; he’s working extremely hard. The thing I love about Ty, I know his goal is to be a starter in this league and that’s what you want as a coach. So he’s very competitive, pushes Joe every day, doing a great job.
4. He Led Virginia Tech to 3 ACC Titles & Is the School’s All-Time Leading Passer
Taylor is having a tough time translating his skill set to the NFL, but he was one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in college football history when he starred at Virginia Tech.
He’s the all-time leading passer at Tech, where he led the Hokies to three ACC titles in four years.
Taylor broke into the starting lineup as a freshman in 2007, initially unseating junior starter Sean Glennon and eventually combining with Glennon to form an unstoppable combination that led the Hokies to the ACC title.
He’s Virginia Tech’s career leader in passing yards (7,017) and holds the school’s single-season record for passing touchdowns, which he set with 24 in 2010, when he was named ACC Player of the Year.
He’s also 15th on Tech’s all-time rushing list with 1,940 yards.
5. He Was Rated the Best Dual-Threat QB in the Country out of High School
Taylor grew up in Hampton, Virginia and starred at Hampton High School, where he was a three-year starter and accounted for 7,690 yards of total offense.
He finished a dazzling senior year with 2,300 yards and 36 touchdowns, leading Rivals.com to rank him the top dual threat quarterback in the country.
His senior year, Taylor was named first-team all-state by virtually every organization and was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
He was recruited by a host of schools that included Florida, but chose to stay closer to home and play for Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech.