Pundits Praise Ravens for Picking Zay Flowers
What a day to be a Ravens fan.
Yesterday began with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens agreeing to a five-year extension after two years of negotiations. It ended with the team getting Jackson another playmaker by selecting Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers with the 22nd-overall pick of the NFL Draft.
Flowers was a popular pick for the Ravens in mock drafts, but a number of mocks had him being selected prior to Baltimore being on the clock.
Ultimately, the Ravens got a player they highly coveted.
"The Ravens were thin at receiver, and the electrifying Flowers happened to fall in their laps," The Athletic's Scott Dochterman wrote. "It seems to happen every year in Baltimore, and it did this year, too."
The pick was universally praised by pundits:
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.: "What a day for Baltimore, which locked down Lamar Jackson for five more years and then got its quarterback a playmaker in Flowers, one of my favorite prospects in this entire class. He'll make Jackson's life so much easier. He can run every route, and he'll dominate out of the slot. Yes, the Ravens signed Odell Beckham Jr., but that was just a one-year deal. They have plenty of room for Flowers.[space]The Baltimore wide receivers combined for 248 receiving yards when lined up in the slot last season, fewest in the NFL. Flowers plugs a big hole."
Touchdown Wire’s Doug Farrar: "Grade: A+++. Flowers did more with less at quarterback than any other top receiver in this class, and with the newly-resigned Lamar Jackson throwing him the ball, Flowers should finally have a real chance to show all he can do. Flowers can win from all points of the field, and he's the first legitimate WR1 the Ravens have had since… well, it's been a long time. Flowers was my best receiver in this class, and I think that the NFL is where he'll really be able to shine as he couldn't in college."
The Ringer’s Danny Kelly: "Grade: A+. The Ravens are having themselves a day. A few hours after inking Lamar Jackson to a long-term deal, Baltimore turns around and grabs its quarterback a brand-new playmaking pass catcher. Flowers is jitterbug quick and plays bigger than his listed size (5-foot-9, 182 pounds), offering both lid-lifting speed and run-after-the-catch talent. The Ravens' new-look offense under Todd Monken is going to be must-see TV this fall."
NFL.com’s Chad Reuter: "Grade: A. The re-signing of Lamar Jackson to a five-year, $260 million contract got the Ravens off to a nice start on Day 1. They added to everyone's happiness when selecting Flowers, a downfield threat and zone-eater over the middle who can take a quick throw from the former MVP and take it the distance. Once again, the Ravens stayed patient and got a good player."
Dochterman: "Grade: A-. Flowers was the only player on Boston College's roster who could scare defenses, and still nobody could stop him. He'll do the same thing with the Ravens."
Draft Wire’s Gavino Borquez: "Grade: B+. The Ravens haven't had the best of luck in trying to draft receivers early but Flowers' speed and acceleration should give them everything they hoped to get with Hollywood Brown but didn't."
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: "Grade: B. They needed to get a young receiver for their new offense under Todd Monken. I like Jordan Addison more, but this is a good move. Flowers is a really good player who was hurt by bad quarterback play at Boston College."
Sports Illustrated’s Gilberto Manzano: "Grade: B. The Ravens gave Lamar Jackson a massive contract extension and a speedy wideout on Day 1 of the draft. Flowers lacks size, but he's capable of creating space with his route running and could be a standout playmaker in the slot."
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks: "Flowers is an A-plus route runner with the polish and explosiveness to help take the Ravens' pass game to next level. Flowers aims to get into the end zone every time he has the ball and has the home-run ability to do just that. He has that coveted dawg mentality and will likely put more sauce on his game playing alongside Odell Beckham Jr."
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "Lamar Jackson's big day continues with the Ravens adding another dynamic target for their franchise quarterback in Zay Flowers. Flowers is on the small side, but he's a deep threat from the slot who produced despite the fact he was surrounded by mediocre talent at Boston College. Teams raved about his character and work ethic throughout the predraft process."
Winners and Losers From Jackson's Deal
Several outlets looked at the winners and losers of Jackson's deal with the Ravens, which is reportedly worth $260 million for an average of $52 million per year, making him the highest-paid player in NFL history.
The Baltimore Banner’s Jonas Shaffer: "It's a big deal for the 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player in a lot of ways. Jackson gets generational money, yes, but he also gets to stay with teammates who love him, coaches who know him and an organization that, five years ago, he pledged to win a Super Bowl for. If he can stay healthy, he'll have a good chance of doing that in Baltimore over these next five years — or at least a better chance than he likely would've had elsewhere."
Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport: "Staying in Baltimore was always the best-case scenario for his career. Yes, there's a new offensive coordinator in Baltimore in Todd Monken. And a new No. 1 receiver in Odell Beckham. But Jackson knows the locker room in Baltimore. From all indications, he gets along well with Head Coach John Harbaugh. He's well-liked by teammates and in the community. … There wasn't another situation Jackson could have landed in that would have been better."
Winner: Eric DeCosta
Shaffer: "DeCosta found a way. It wasn't easy. He had to tiptoe through the troubles of negotiating directly with Jackson. He had to offer the occasional olive branch (even if one such branch looked like a $15 million contract for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.). He had to risk the exposure of a nonexclusive franchise tag. He had to resort to void years. Ultimately, though, DeCosta got a deal done. And now he's free to focus on the draft and the Ravens' next wave of deals."
CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani: "Well duh. The Ravens never wavered in their belief Jackson was going to be a Raven for years to come. They remained optimistic not only that he would be in the fold for 2023, but that they would get a long-term deal done.
Davenport: "When healthy, Jackson is maybe the most difficult player in the NFL to defend. He's 45-16 in the regular season as the starter for the Ravens. Keeping the team's Super Bowl window open relied on keeping Jackson."
Loser: Ravens 2023 opponents
Shaffer: "It's not complicated. A Ravens team with Jackson is better than a Ravens team without Jackson. Now, with his deal done, and the Ravens likely to get some salary cap relief from its back-loaded structure, they could get even better. On paper, their 2023 team has the talent to have a top-10 offense, a top-five defense and a top-three special teams group. (Predictions in April are, it should be noted, pretty worthless.) However the Ravens' draft unfolds, they should emerge from the weekend as one of the biggest threats to dethroning the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC."
Loser: AFC North
Davenport: "If you listened intently when the news broke that Jackson and the Ravens had worked things out, you could hear expletives flowing from Cleveland. And Pittsburgh. And most assuredly from Cincinnati. Because the last thing any of those teams wanted was for Jackson and the Ravens to kiss and make up. … Had Jackson left Baltimore, the division would have been the Bengals—and then everyone else. There would have been a massive gap between Cincy and everyone else. Now, the Ravens will once again be right on the Bengals' heels. And the last time the two teams met with Jackson healthy, the Ravens won a squeaker."
Dajani: "Not so fast Raven rivals! You have to imagine the Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns were holding out some hope Jackson's trade request was final, and that he was on his way out of the division. Sorry, that's not going to happen. You'll continue to have to defend one of the most dynamic quarterbacks twice a season for years to come."
Loser: Teams who failed to take a run at Jackson
Davenport: "There will be teams that regret sitting on their hands where Jackson is concerned. … They say that fortune favors the bold. It's a saying several GMs may want to commit to memory while watching Jackson and the Ravens make the playoffs in 2023."
DeAndre Hopkins Is Still a Cardinal
There was a lot of talk that Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins would be traded last night and that the Ravens possibly were the favorites to land him. Turns out it was exactly that — just talk.
Hopkins is still a Cardinal, and he might stay one, Arizona GM Monti Ossenfort said last night.
"I don't foresee that happening," Ossenfort said when asked if Hopkins could be dealt during the draft. "I don't know what is going to happen in the next couple days, but right now, I don't foresee that happening.
"DeAndre is a Cardinal. DeAndre is a Cardinal and we're moving forward."
Cornerback Remains Top Need
Cornerback was regarded as the Ravens' biggest need heading into the draft, and it remains so entering Day 2.
"To me, a cornerback should have been the priority with the Ravens' first pick," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "You certainly could have made a case for the Ravens to pick either Maryland corner Deonte Banks or Penn State corner Joey Porter Jr. However, given how the first round unfolded, it's understandable why they couldn't resist adding a guy who was considered by some to be the top receiver in the draft."
The Ravens aren't scheduled to pick again until the third round (86th overall).