2018 NFL Draft: Ravens pull off a steal by trading to take Lamar Jackson on final pick of first round
Baltimore makes a deal that might have landed its quarterback of the future
After sitting through the first 31 picks in the NFL Draft on Thursday, Lamar Jackson eventually found himself still in the green room and with one pick left in the first round, it looked like he was going to fall all the way to Day 2.
However, that didn't happen, thanks to the Ravens, who pulled off a stunning trade with the Eagles to end the first round of the 2018 draft. The trade to land Jackson ended a night of wheeling and dealing for Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, who pulled off three trades in his final draft as Baltimore's GM. The last trade might end up being the one that sets the team up for success into the foreseeable future, because, that's the trade that landed the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.
After passing on Jackson with the 25th overall pick, the Ravens decided to make a deal with the Eagles for the 32nd overall pick so they could grab Jackson. To pull off the trade with the Eagles, the Ravens had to send the 52nd overall pick, the 125th overall pick and a 2019 second-round pick to Philly. In return, the Ravens landed their possible quarterback of the future, along one other pick in 2018 (the 132nd overall pick).
After three straight down years from Joe Flacco, the Ravens didn't hide the fact that they might need to draft a quarterback this year. Newsome has been insisting for months that the Ravens might take a quarterback if they thought that was the best way to help the team.
"We will grade the players, set the board, and if there's a quarterback that we feel that we can pick at any of our picks, we'll do it," Newsome said in early April.
Even Flacco seemed to concede this month that it might be time to Baltimore to take a quarterback.
"It is what it is. It's a business," Flacco said in mid-April. "Eventually, at some point, that's going to have to happen. It's not really for me to worry about."
The bottom line is that Flacco is 33, has struggled for three seasons, and isn't exactly healthy. The quarterback has been hampered by knee and back issues over the past few seasons, and that's where Jackson comes in as Baltimore's potential quarterback of the future.
Although Flacco will almost certainly be the starter in 2018, it will be interesting to see what the Ravens do after that. If Flacco struggles next season, Baltimore could choose to move on and let Jackson take over as starter in 2019.
The good news for the Ravens is that Jackson already seems to have a chip on his shoulder.
After being selected by the Ravens, Jackson promised everyone in Baltimore that he'd be eventually be taking his new team to the promised land.
"They're going to get a Super Bowl out of me," Jackson said.
With Jackson, the Ravens now have a quarterback who's nearly the complete opposite of Flacco. The dual-threat quarterback totalled 9,043 career passing yards, and 4,132 rushing yards during his career at Louisville and was named ACC Player of the Year in both 2016 and 2017.
The Ravens actually have an offensive coordinator in Marty Mornhinweg who should be able to take advantage of Jackson's talents. Mornhinweg was the OC in Philadelphia during four of Michael Vick's seasons with the Eagles.
Jackson was the fifth quarterback selected in the first round this year, which might not end up being good thing for at least one team in the draft. This year marks the eight time that four or more quarterbacks have been taken in the first round and in each of those seasons, at least one QB has ended up being a bust.
If history holds, that means either the Browns (Baker Mayfield), Jets (Sam Darnold), Bills (Josh Allen), Cardinals (Josh Rosen) or Ravens could soon be regretting their pick.
The biggest upside for the Ravens is that they will now potentially have Jackson under contract for five years thanks to the fact that he was selected in the first round. If Jackson had been taken in the second round, a team would have only been able to sign him to a four-year deal.
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