The Baltimore Ravens turned an average night into a great one with a trade-up that resulted in Lamar Jackson, their next franchise quarterback.
After trading back twice and selecting Hayden Hurst with the 25th-overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens and general manager Ozzie Newsome appeared to have an underwhelming night. Baltimore, which went 9-7 last season and missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, needed to find a difference maker.
Then, with the Philadelphia Eagles on the clock, Newsome made his move. The Ravens traded back into the final spot of the first round and landed the successor to Joe Flacco, taking Lamar Jackson with the 32nd-overall choice.
Jackson was the fifth quarterback off the board, but he might have the most upside. Despite having a paltry completion rate of 57 percent during his three years at Louisville, he improved each campaign, topping out at 59.1 percent in 2017. The 21-year-old also amassed more total yardage than any of the other first-round passers, racking up 9,043 yards through the air and another 4,132 on the ground. All told, Jackson accounted for 199 touchdowns, won a Heisman Trophy, was a finalist for another and won consecutive ACC Offensive Player of the Year awards.
In Baltimore, Jackson has the opportunity to be brought along slowly behind Flacco, who has another four years on his deal. However, the Ravens can conceivably get out of the pact after this season, although it would require eating $24 million in dead money over the next two seasons.
Reality says that Flacco will start in 2018, with Jackson only seeing the field if the team craters. Considering the coach and defensive personnel, that’s unlikely, but yet for the best. Jackson can sit back and learn from Flacco and quarterbacks coach James Urban, along with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
it remains to be seen how the future will play out for Jackson and the rest of this rookie class, but oftentimes success is determined by scheme, coaching and work ethic. By all accounts, Jackson has the latter in spades, and the first two appear to be a perfect fit. The night may have been long for the former Louisville star, but the end result couldn’t have been better.
As for the Ravens, a team with an aging core and a black hole at quarterback just got its savior.