Lamar Jackson Not Ranked Among Top 10 Quarterbacks in ESPN Survey
Lamar Jackson is somehow not one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the NFL, according to an ESPN survey of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players.
Jackson was one of three quarterbacks to receive an honorable mention. He was No. 8 in last year's rankings.
"Keeping a quarterback with an MVP award and a 37-12 record as a starter off a top-10 list is surprising, but that's exactly what more than half of the voters did," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote. "Despite standout moments in 2021 — including 442 passing yards on Monday Night Football against the Colts in October — Jackson finished the year with a career-low 50.7 QBR. He struggled mightily in his last three full games with six interceptions and 13 sacks as teams blitzed him heavily. And he missed the last month of the season with an ankle injury, fueling concern about how his running style will hold up long term."
An NFC personnel evaluator said of Jackson: "Innately competitive, driven and mentally tougher than just about anybody. You just run into a few issues late in the year: For as much as you run him, you get worn down."
I completely agree with the first part of that statement, but the notion that Jackson gets "worn down" late in the year is balderdash. Jackson missed the final four games last season with a bone bruise in his ankle, but he was outstanding down the stretch the previous two seasons and his record as a starter in December is 13-2.
After being on the COVID-19 list in Week 12 in 2020, Jackson led the Ravens to five straight wins to end the regular season. During that span, he threw 11 touchdown passes (to three interceptions) and rushed for 430 yards and four touchdowns as the Ravens averaged 37.2 points.
When he was the unanimous MVP in 2019, Jackson was even more productive during the final weeks of the season than he was early in the season.
Of course, Jackson's playoff record of 1-3 will continue to be put under the microscope. But the "innately competitive" quarterback plans to change that too.
Marcus Williams, Patrick Queen Receive Recognition in ESPN Survey
Safety Marcus Williams and inside linebacker Patrick Queen also were recognized at their respective positions in ESPN's survey. Williams was ranked No. 8 and Queen was an honorable mention.
There was a wide range of opinions on Williams, who was ranked as high as No. 2 and as low as not in the top 10.
"Once he gets going, he has the best range in the league," an AFC defensive coach said. "Closing on the ball, he's ridiculously good."
As for Queen, a veteran NFC scout said: "Really good player — fast, explosive, not very big but overcomes a lot of that."
It was previously announced that Marlon Humphrey was No. 8 among cornerbacks and Calais Campbell was an honorable mention for defensive linemen. The rest of the positional rankings will be revealed throughout the week: running backs (tomorrow), wide receivers (Wednesday), tight ends (Thursday) and offensive tackles (Friday).
Justin Tucker Enters Superstar Club, But Mark Andrews Is Denied
Every year since 2015, NFL.com's Dan Hanzus reveals the members of his NFL Superstar Club. As its name indicates, the exclusive club is reserved for active players who have earned elite status.
Hanzus' rule is that for a player to gain access to the club, one player from that position must have his membership revoked.
Jackson has been a club member since 2020. This year, the velvet rope was opened for Justin Tucker, the lone kicker ever allowed into the club. Unfortunately, Mark Andrews was left on the outside looking in.
The three tight ends in the 29-member Superstar Club are Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Darren Waller, all of whom are deserving. But so is Andrews, obviously.
Andrews was a first-team All-Pro last season after leading all tight ends in receptions (107) and yards (1,361) and was tied for the lead in touchdowns (nine). He is the only player in NFL history to be ranked in the top three in both single-season receptions and yards by a tight end.
Even more shocking than Andrews being omitted from the club is that he didn't even make Hanzus' list of "close calls." Now that's just silly.
At least Hanzus got it right with Tucker, who shattered the glass ceiling with his foot.
"Yeah, I'm doing it. Tucker is 1-of-1, an automatic All-Pro and indispensable piece of a legit AFC contender in Baltimore," Hanzus wrote. "His unmatched résumé, mastering the sport's most pressure-filled and relentlessly scrutinized position, should make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer one day.
"Now ... I understand there's a philosophical aspect to this conversation that touches on what it means to be a 'superstar;' how it's about elite production, sure, but also presence, charisma, a certain je ne sais quoi that — to this point in football history — no kicker had ever possessed. Well, I'm here to tell you that Justin Tucker possesses that je ne sais quoi. And if you ever try to take it from him, that man will kick you 66 yards ... straight down the middle ... off the crossbar and over, of course."
Hanzus posed the question of whether Tucker is a superstar a couple weeks ago on Twitter, and the answer was a resounding yes. Perhaps Hanzus should run a similar poll regarding Andrews.
Marquise Brown Trade Lauded as Ravens' Best Offseason Move
It seems odd to say that a team trading its No. 1 wide receiver was its best move of the offseason, but Pro Football Focus' Brad Spielberger contends that the trade that sent Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals was Baltimore's top transaction.
The draft-day deal saw the Ravens receive the 23rd-overall pick from the Cardinals in exchange for Brown and a third-round pick (No. 100 overall). Baltimore subsequently traded the 23rd pick to the Buffalo Bills for selections in the first round (No. 25, center Tyler Linderbaum) and fourth round (No. 130, punter Jordan Stoudt).
Spielberger said the shrewd moves will help the Ravens continue to be contenders for the foreseeable future. He also made it clear that he isn't taking anything away from Brown's ability.
"Baltimore was able to come out of the first round with safety Kyle Hamilton and Linderbaum while saving a ton of future investment at wide receiver, a position that has obviously undergone a substantial market explosion," Spielberger wrote. "This isn't a knock on Brown, who's coming off a career-best 91 reception, 1,008-yard season, but it resembles the tough decisions good franchises have to make to sustain success. The Ravens avoiding top-of-market paydays on Marquise Brown and tackle Orlando Brown Jr. while adding elite talent on rookie contracts will go a very long way in keeping a talented roster around quarterback Lamar Jackson if (when) he finally agrees to a big-money extension."
Ravens Make Sports Illustrated's List of Realistic Super Bowl Contenders
The Ravens are one of 12 teams who have a realistic shot of winning the Super Bowl, in the opinion of Sports Illustrated's Conor Orr.
"They already had one of the best drafts in modern NFL history back in 2018, and '22 may end up being a close second with the addition of talented prospects such as safety Kyle Hamilton, center Tyler Linderbaum and edge rusher David Ojabo," Orr wrote. "That's one reason I love the Ravens this year. Another? No one has figured out how to stop their offense yet! Teams have borrowed freely from Baltimore's suite of backfield motion concepts and still, since '18, they remain one of the most efficient units in football featuring a quarterback who has never thrown for more than 3,200 yards in a season. It's incredible, quite frankly.
"This season, the Ravens will be healthier, more athletic and younger at key offensive line positions. I have seen your rebuttal, that they have only one potentially good wide receiver, and I will counter by saying that Mark Andrews is one of the 10 best pass catchers in the NFL, and that a 10-yard pass to a tight end is largely the same as a 10-yard pass to a wide receiver."
Eight of the 12 teams on Orr's list are in the AFC, including the entire West division.