What Mink Thinks: Lamar Jackson Is Set Up Better for Success, Even After Trade


Lamar Jackson's 2022 draft experience started with a “WTF”, but the Ravens quarterback was helped more than hurt this weekend. Jackson is better positioned to return to MVP form than he has been the past couple years.

The Ravens were a juggernaut in 2019, a team that certainly could have won the Super Bowl. Jackson was on fire and the offense was the best in the league.

Looking at the Ravens' final tally from the 2022 NFL Draft, it seems like Baltimore is trying to turn back the clock to try to recreate some of that magic on offense.

The Ravens traded their top wide receiver, Marquise Brown, during the first round and didn't draft another one. Instead, they flipped the pick they acquired for Brown into the top center prospect to come out in years in Tyler Linderbaum.

Baltimore continued to fortify its wall on the offensive line by grabbing hulking offensive tackle Daniel Faalele in the fourth round, then picked a pair of big-bodied tight ends (Charlie Kolar and Isaiah Likely). With their last pick, the Ravens took a productive all-around running back to bolster the ground game.

Of course, the Ravens will miss Brown. He's a fantastic player who has ascended each of his three years and topped 1,000 receiving yards last season. But Brown wanted out. Thus, the Ravens pivoted.

Did the Ravens really need two top-flight receivers to thrive on offense? Or were resources better spent elsewhere? For as good as the 2019 offense was, it didn't have a wide receiver top 600 receiving yards. Brown led the wideouts with 584 yards and seven touchdowns.

I feel pretty safe going out on a limb to say that Rashod Bateman will top 600 yards this season. Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace are more dangerous than Willie Snead IV, Seth Roberts and Miles Boykin. The wide receiver corps, which could still get a veteran addition, is already better than the one in 2019.

The big upgrade when compared to the past couple years is on the offensive line. In 2019, Jackson felt comfortable behind his offensive line and it showed. He was sacked just 28 times, the fifth-fewest in the league. Last year, Baltimore took more than twice that many sacks (57).

That offensive line also helped clear holes for a record-setting rushing offense that put Jackson in more favorable third-down situations. Jackson in third-and-3 is a whole lot more threatening to defenses than Jackson in third-and-8 because anything could happen.

The 2019 offensive line had two Pro Bowl offensive tackles in Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. and a Hall of Fame right guard in Marshal Yanda. Provided that Staley returns healthy, this year's projected offensive line might not be as accomplished as the 2019 line, but it's not too far off.

Linderbaum will immediately step in as the best center Jackson has had, and perhaps the most talented in Ravens history. Veteran free-agent addition Morgan Moses is a proven effective starting right tackle who is still playing at a high level. Faalele provides (literally) massive depth with the potential to develop into the next Brown.

A lynchpin of the 2019 offensive success was the use of multiple tight ends, specifically pass catchers that challenge defenses at all levels. With the picks of Kolar and Likely, the Ravens added a pair of talented rookies to help support All-Pro Mark Andrews.

Just like he did in 2019, Andrews will probably lead the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards next season. But like Hayden Hurst provided, there will be more ancillary tight end weapons too. The tight ends will also help improve the downfield run blocking.

Of course, all of this still hinges on healthy returns of Stanley and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. The Ravens drafted running back Tyler Badie in the sixth round as an insurance policy who did it all last year at Missouri and could still add a veteran.

The Ravens wish Brown nothing but success in Arizona. He stated that he requested a trade because he felt he could thrive more in a different system. Perhaps he's right. The Ravens are a team based around the run of both their running backs and quarterback.

"I think wide receiver for the Ravens is the fifth-most important position on their offense," ESPN's Dan Orlovsky said this week. "I think it goes offensive line, Lamar Jackson, the running backs, their tight ends and then their wide receivers. I just think that's the best version of who they are."

When envisioning the Ravens 2022 offense, it looks a whole lot more like the unit in 2019 than the 2020 or 2021 versions. That is good news for Jackson and Baltimore.

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