Quarterbacks didn’t go off the board quite the way everyone thought, and when Lamar Jackson fell past the New Orleans Saints following their dramatic trade up (for a pass rusher, it turned out), there was an “uh oh” feeling in Jackson’s camp.
Might he not go in Round 1?
But like another beloved quarterback who slid on Draft Day, Teddy Bridgewater, there are 32 picks in Round 1. The Baltimore Ravens moved back into Round 1, and Jackson was a Raven, after they had passed on him once seven picks earlier.
What a thrilling end to an amazing first round. What a way for Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, executing his final draft, to cap off his last Round 1. Heisman Trophy winners to the AFC North bookended the round, at 1 (Baker Mayfield to the Browns) and 32 (Jackson to Baltimore).
Jackson is just about the virtual opposite of Joe Flacco. But Flacco’s contract only keeps him in town another year, and they can move on from him in 2019 if they want. Having Jackson there is a sign that change could be closer down the road at quarterback than we thought.
When we texted with Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg a few weeks back about Jackson, his word for him: “Unique.”
He continued: “Great runner, great player. Not a pure passer.”
And that’s where the argument comes in. Perhaps Mornhinweg felt Michael Vick wasn’t a “pure passer” when they worked together with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010. That worked out OK.
The Eagles’ offense that year was tailored to Vick’s ability to move outside the pocket and rip it; those same modifications will be made for Jackson, too, whenever that time comes.
The NFL is changing, by and large. Teams no longer are trying to wedge stallions into the stable. They're unleashing talented passers with running ability the way they were in college — and learning to hold their breath about them getting hurt. They're simplifying things, or modifying things, to make it less 1998 and more 2018. That's a good thing.
Deshaun Watson opened up the imagination of play callers last season, and we expect Patrick Mahomes and others to do the same this year. Down the road, Jackson could do the same.
The Ravens made an exciting move to finish off Thursday night. Jackson could make Newsome’s final draft special because he has game-changing talent. His running is better than almost any running back in the league. His passing has improved with each year. There’s little telling how good he could become.
Jackson’s QB coach, Joshua Harris, gave us a window into his pre-draft training, and he tried to dispel some of the myths about Jackson the person and the quarterback. It was an interesting conversation, especially if you get into the mechanics of playing quarterback.
But this all just becomes so fascinating when we see Jackson in training camp and how fast he can pick things up. Could he possible push Flacco out at some point this year? That might be fast. But the future of the Ravens has changed quite a bit with two of the most interesting draft paths — TE Hayden Hurst, the former baseball prospect, at 25 and Jackson at 32.