NEW YORK – Joe Flacco sat near Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck and didn't flinch. He didn't appear intimidated and he held his own while joking with the star quarterbacks.
Flacco appeared at a quasi-roast for Favre on Friday. One day later, the spotlight was to shift to the NFL draft, and neither the former Green Bay quarterback or the Seattle signal-caller would be a topic.
But Flacco was expected to be. He is the rising QB in this year's crop, a Division I-AA product from Delaware with a bazooka arm, a calm presence and a ton of leadership.
Flacco has been projected to go anywhere from late in the first round Saturday to early second round. Speculation has had the likes of the Packers (No. 30 overall), or Dolphins, Falcons, Ravens and Chiefs in the second round selecting him.
He's not worrying about the uncertainty of the draft and where he might wind up.
"Last year at this point, I said I would be happy to be a draft pick, and that hasn't changed," The 6-foot-7, 236-pound Flacco said. "All I wanted was the opportunity to be in the NFL, the opportunity that I have now. Just the chance.
"I know whoever picks me wants me."
It would be hard not too want a quarterback with his college success. Flacco led Delaware to the national championship game, where it lost to Appalachian State.
He comes out of perhaps the best conference in small college football, the Colonial. He left Pittsburgh after two years, transferring to the only school where he could play immediately — and immediately made an impact.
Flacco emphasizes that he was not exactly playing Division II NAIA ball in college.
"Most people don't seem worried about the level of competition because they understand it is strong," he said. "My situation, they don't look down at it too much. We played against a lot of good teams in a conference that is darn good and is deep. We played Appalachian State, which has won three (straight) championships.
"Teams in the CAA are similar in talent, and the NFL is like that. We were able to play mistake-free and win games every week ... some big games, and you are not playing any teams a lot worse than you."
Among the concerns about Flacco is that he played in a shotgun system at Delaware; he didn't stick around to fight for a job at Pitt, where he was beaten out by Tyler Palko, now with the Saints; and that he has not played against complicated defenses.
But at the NFL combine and in personal workouts, Flacco was so impressive that some teams rate him higher than Louisville's Brian Brohm and Michigan's Chad Henne, the other QBs likely to be chosen after the top-rated passer, Matt Ryan of Boston College.
Several NFL personnel directors and scouts have cited Flacco's composure as a strength. Flacco agrees.
"A lot of things go on that are positive or negative in a game and my demeanor (is an asset)," he said. "The rest of the guys in the huddle have to have confidence you can do it.
"I'm a small-school kid, but don't think I have anything to prove to myself. But if people say I have something to prove, I'll go out and play football and prove it."