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Daniel Jeremiah: Ravens Have to Consider First-Round Quarterback

Posted Apr 12, 2018

This year's draft is packed with quality quarterbacks at the top, and the NFL Network draft analyst believes the Ravens could get in on the action.

The quarterback buzz in Baltimore has picked up in recent weeks.

Franchise signal caller Joe Flacco still has four years left on his contract, but this year’s quarterback class is believed to be the best in recent memory, and several draft pundits have floated out the idea of the Ravens taking the heir apparent at No. 16.

“I think it's something that you have to consider,” NFL Network draft analyst and former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah said on a conference call Wednesday when asked about the Ravens taking a first-round quarterback.

Louisville’s Lamar Jackson has dominated most of the recent discussion. Multiple analysts have suggested the Ravens may be interested in the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, and he’s the most likely candidate to last until the middle of the first round.

The perceived top four quarterbacks – Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield – are all expected to be gone before the Ravens are on the clock. There’s also a chance that Jackson gets picked in the top 15.

“Lamar Jackson, I think they'd have a shot at him there, but if they wanted one of the other guys, I think they'd have to be willing to go up,” Jeremiah said.

Baltimore’s top decision makers have indicated during the pre-draft process that they would take a quarterback in the first round if the right player is available at No. 16.

The Ravens haven’t drafted a quarterback higher than the sixth round since taking Flacco in 2008, but the discussion has ramped up this year because Flacco is coming off a disappointing season. He threw for 3,141 yards, which was his lowest 16-game total since his rookie season. He tossed 18 touchdowns to 13 interceptions, and the Ravens ranked 29th in passing offense.

But Flacco wasn’t healthy to start the year, as a back injury cost him all of training camp and the preseason. The missed time clearly put him behind in developing chemistry with new targets like veteran receiver Jeremy Maclin.

Flacco played through the pain early in the season, and the Ravens limited what they asked of him. As he got healthier late in the year, the passing game came alive and the Ravens were the AFC’s No. 2 offense in the second half of the season.

The Ravens have clearly placed a priority on surrounding Flacco with more weapons, and they have completely transformed the receiving corps this offseason by adding Michael Crabtree and Smokey Brown, and parting ways with Maclin, Mike Wallace, Benjamin Watson and Michael Campanaro.

“The level of play at the quarterback position for the Ravens has not been up to par the last few years,” Jeremiah said. “You can look at the supporting cast. But look, that criticism is legitimate of Joe Flacco.”

Adding Jackson would be a change in philosophy for the Ravens because he’s such a different player than Flacco. Jackson is a dual-threat quarterback who ran for more than 4,100 yards and 50 touchdowns in his three college seasons, while Flacco is a traditional pocket passer.

But NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks believes the Ravens could move in that direction. Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Assistant Head Coach / Tight Ends Coach Greg Roman both have a strong track record of developing mobile quarterbacks. The Ravens also signed Robert Griffin III as a backup this week.

“When it comes to Lamar Jackson in particular, they have experience dealing with athletic quarterbacks,. So some of the fascination and intrigue could be in thinking, ‘How can we rebuild the offense around a dynamic quarterback while also having an athletic backup quarterback already in the building in RG III?’” Brooks said.

“If they are not satisfied with the way that [Flacco is] performing, they could look to find guys, young guys, that are better fits for how they envision that offense playing out in the next few years.”

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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