It’s pretty much unanimously agreed upon that Baltimore should and will draft a quarterback this year. Joe Flacco has under-performed since winning Super Bowl XLVII, and isn’t getting any younger either. It’s time to find his heir, before his time with the Ravens comes to an end.
The Ravens have the 16th overall pick in the first round of the draft. Top quarterback prospects, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen will be gone. Baker Mayfield could be an option when Baltimore is on the clock, but let’s face it, there are much bigger needs than quarterback on this roster right now. I would be shocked if Ozzie Newsome decided to take one at 16.
The second-round and beyond is open game, however. Guys such as Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, and Luke Falk could all be enticing options after the first round. I personally think Baltimore will draft one in the fourth round or later, but you never know. That’s why I’m going to take a look at one of the more intriguing quarterbacks I listed above, Lamar Jackson.
The 2016 Heisman trophy winner, Jackson checks in at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. In 2017, he threw for 3,660 yards, 27 touchdowns, and ten interceptions, as well as rushing for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns. He is incredibly mobile, drawing many comparisons to Michael Vick, and more recently, Deshaun Watson.
There are always concerns for guys like Jackson, who often rely on their legs for big plays, and how well they can translate to the NFL level. He isn’t very big either, so durability is a question as well. In the brutal AFC North, you have to be durable. Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger, and Andy Dalton were built for this division. Jackson comes from a much different mold than them.
Jackson also has issues with his accuracy at times. There are questions about his pocket presence as well, and his tendency to run often. He will have to learn to only run when necessary in the NFL if he wants to have any longevity in his career.
There’s absolutely no denying how physically gifted Jackson is, however. Deshaun Watson had similar concerns surrounding him last year when he was drafted by the Houston Texans. Before his season-ending knee injury, he was lighting the league on fire and was well on his way towards becoming offensive rookie of the year.
Jackson isn’t too unlike a former Ravens’ quarterback, Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is a smaller, mobile quarterback, who faces accuracy issues as well. While he didn’t see serious playing time in Baltimore as the backup, he has gone on to have some solid seasons for the Bills. Buffalo is a cold, brutal place to play in December like Baltimore, and Taylor has held up fine.
There’s really no way of telling how Jackson will pan out at the professional level, but the same can be said for even the most complete quarterback prospects out of college. At a certain point, you just have to realize when a guy is a playmaker, and Jackson is certainly that.
However, I don’t think he would be the best fit for Baltimore. And I believe he will be taken earlier than people expect, possibly even in the first round. If he is available in the second-round when the Ravens are on the clock, then Newsome will have a tough decision to make.