OWINGS MILLS — Taysom Hill may not have found the end zone, but it’s safe to assume he left a lasting impression when the New Orleans Saints faced the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank last October.
Despite being listed on the New Orleans depth chart as a quarterback, the versatile Hill impacted the contest like few others, taking part in 26 plays on offense, an additional 20 on special teams and finishing the contest with six carries for 35 yards. His first-down run on a fake punt moved the chains during a 20-play opening drive that saw the Saints convert three fourth downs.
Eight months later, the Ravens may be developing their own dynamic signal caller.
Rookie quarterback Trace McSorley, entrenched on the depth chart behind starter Lamar Jackson and veteran Robert Griffin III, spent most of June’s minicamp practices taking snaps at his regular position. However, when he trotted over to join the rotation of athletes returning punts, it became obvious that the Ravens hope to take advantage of more than just his throwing arm.
“Yeah, it definitely does excite me. One of the things that I want to do here is just provide value for anything that the coaching staff needs me to do or coach [John] Harbaugh asks me. Wherever I can fit in and help this team win games and be able to compete at the highest level, I think that’s kind of my mentality and that’s what I want to do,” McSorley stated during rookie camp in May, shortly after he was selected by Baltimore in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. “I’m definitely excited to try and see what else I can do out there and get on the field anywhere I can.
“I think [the offense] does fit my skillset and what I’m able to do. I think it’s one of the things that I can definitely excel [at], but I’m just excited to be here.”
The Ravens targeted McSorley after a standout career at Penn State University, where he passed for 9,899 yards and 77 touchdowns and rushed for 1,697 yards and 30 touchdowns over three years as a starter.
He was also the fastest quarterback at the combine, and part of a Ravens offseason strategy to inject speed into the roster.
“Trace McSorley, was kind of a sleeper pick for us. We brought him in for the local pro day. We worked him out, fell in love with the kid. He had a really nice workout for us, very good athlete, and a very versatile player who can do a lot of different things,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a post-draft press conference. “We brought him in as a quarterback, but we think his skillset really does fit what we’re trying to accomplish on offense, and he has potential to do some other things. We’re excited about him.”
For the Saints last season, Hill lined up at a number of playmaking positions other than quarterback, including running back, receiver, tight end and returner. He even lined up as a special teams tackler.
Training camp and preseason contests will likely reveal whether McSorley will share a similar assignment as a jack-of-all-trades.
The Ravens rookie already wears No. 7 — the same jersey number as Hill.
“I’ve just kind of been watching him more from the outsider’s stance, not really been studying it. But all the things that he can do for them, just providing a ton of support and a ton of value for them down in New Orleans, I think it’s extremely valuable, and his role has kind of continued to grow from that,” McSorley said of Hill. “I’ve just been watching him more from the outside, honestly, from a fan’s kind of perspective. But I think that’s one of the things – he just provides a ton of value for them.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig