This is certainly an intriguing visit that could be interpreted several different ways. The Ravens could truly be interested in Jackson, who is expected to be selected in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Although, Baltimore could also be scheduling this visit with Jackson to bait other teams that are interested in him, who are picking behind Baltimore, to trade up for him. It could also be a mix of both.
But it’s not as if he was great before last season, and had a quick downturn, as he has been well below average for each of the past three years. Pro Football Reference has year-adjusted stats so we can compare across different stat environments. Flacco has been well below average in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt each of the last three years (and in pretty much every other measure, such as Passer Rating). You know how many other guys had a ANYA+ of 95 or lower (where 100 is average) in three straight seasons at age 30 to 32? One. Marc Bulger with the Rams from 2007 to 2009. He never played in another NFL game after that final season.
The Ravens aren’t oblivious to this info, see the Lamar Jackson report. The astounding part of this is that he hardly cracks the top 30 of eligible QBs by most statistics
But how quickly can any rookie tight end help in a big way? The Ravens may need it immediately.
Baltimore currently has just two tight ends on the roster with Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams, who are both more blockers than pass-catchers. Combined, they made 55 catches for 289 yards and one touchdown last season. Meanwhile, Benjamin Watson caught 61 passes for 522 yards and four touchdowns.
The Ravens tried to acquire help via free agency, but haven’t landed anyone yet. Top free-agent tight end Jimmy Graham joined Green Bay. Baltimore reportedly went after Eric Ebron, but he signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Watson left for New Orleans.
With tight end being a safety blanket for Flacco the position is important, but so is chemistry. It’ll be hard to fill the shoes of Pitta and Benjamin.
The input NFL head coaches have on the draft varies from team to team. Some coaches have limited sway on personnel decisions, while others have total control of the process.
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome has the final call when it comes to draft-day decisions, but Head Coach John Harbaugh certainly has opportunities to share his opinions along the way.
“I try to have a lot of input,” Harbaugh said during this week’s pre-draft press conference. “I think that there’s a great collaboration here. To me, it speaks to Ozzie’s format and the kind of people Ozzie, Eric [DeCosta] and Joe [Hortiz] are.”