Lamar Jackson Is 'Best Player in the NFL,' Comparable to LeBron James
Remember before the season began when Lamar Jackson was snubbed from Pro Football Focus' list of the top 50 players in the league? It was preposterous then and gets more preposterous by the week.
After leading the Ravens to yet another spectacular comeback win, Jackson isn't just being talked about as one of the NFL's best players and a strong MVP candidate; he's being called the best player.
ESPN's Marcus Spears compared the 2019 unanimous MVP to NBA superstar LeBron James.
"This is the LeBron James effect," Spears said. "LeBron James could've been the league MVP for like nine years straight. Lamar Jackson is that. Sometimes when we're watching it and those guys make mistakes, we highlight that because we're so used to their greatness.
"Lamar Jackson is not only the Most Valuable Player in the NFL; he's the best player in the NFL. Because every team that walks into that stadium knows that they have to stop Lamar Jackson in order to beat the Ravens, and can't nobody can do it. So at some point we have to acknowledge that this dude's the best football player in the NFL beyond the MVP. We know he's the Most Valuable Player because his team ain't winning without him, but [he's] the best player too."
Former Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer said it's not just Jackson's talent that makes him special; it's also the fact that he's coachable and has a burning desire to be great.
"You have that much talent, and you're that coachable, and you're that hungry to get better … I mean three years from now he might be better than he is now," Dilfer said on "The Ryen Russillo Podcast." "As long as his body stays as freakishly athletic as it is now, and he keeps making these improvements playing the position, I think you're going to be talking about [Patrick] Mahomes and him. And these freaks, these three or four freaks that are just physically better than everybody else and have changed the way the quarterback position is played."
While Jackson is rising on the pundits' list of leading MVP candidates, he's still not getting much love from the oddsmakers.
Jackson currently has the seventh-best odds to win the MVP award on Caesars Sportsbook, trailing Tom Brady, Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers.
ESPN's Ryan Clark and Dan Orlovsky were astounded that Jackson's MVP odds aren't higher.
"Do they watch the games? Maybe they just don't watch the games," Clark said on "Get Up." "If you watch that football team, there is no more MVP-ish type performer than Lamar Jackson is right now. They only win if he plays excellent. Not like a little good, not average. Not good enough. He has to play excellent for them to win football games, and they win football games they're not supposed to because of him. That's what an MVP is."
Said Orlovsky: "We wanna talk about MVP? It's not the guy with the best numbers or the crazy statistics. The Ravens would literally be a one- or two-win football team if not for Lamar Jackson."
Marquise Brown Has Left No Doubt He's a No. 1 Receiver
While Jackson is being compared with James, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is being compared with three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
In making the comparison between Brown and early Jackson, NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah said Brown proved this season that he's a true No. 1 receiver.
"He reminded me so much of DeSean Jackson when he was coming out of Cal … and now you're seeing that player emerge," Jeremiah said. "He's on pace for a big-time season. He's a No. 1 wide receiver. Put that to bed."
In Sunday's 34-31 overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings, Brown gained 75 of his 116 receiving yards (on nine receptions) after the catch.
"Brown's biggest improvement might just be what happens after the ball gets in his hands," The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec wrote. "There was a time where Brown looked to get down or out of bounds the second he caught the ball, but those days appear to be over. Brown also did a nice job on several occasions coming back to the football to make a play for his quarterback."
Should the Ravens Sign Free Agent Safety Tre Boston?
On the same day that safety DeShon Elliott was placed on injured reserve with a torn pectoral/biceps injury, the agent for veteran free agent safety Tre Boston told ESPN's Adam Schefter that his client is "healthy, in shape, vaccinated and willing to sign on with a practice squad."
Head Coach John Harbaugh said yesterday that it will be a group effort to replace Elliott, specifically mentioning rookie Brandon Stephens, Jimmy Smith, Geno Stone, Anthony Levine Sr. and practice squad veteran Jordan Richards.
That said, Boston is an intriguing option. The 29-year-old has started 76 games in his career, including all 16 games the past two seasons for the Carolina Panthers. He has 15 career interceptions.
Heavy.com looked at the pros and cons of the Ravens potentially signing Boston. On the positive side is Boston's coverage skills and versatility.
"Over the course of his career, Boston has developed a reputation as a classic coverage free safety, with plenty of range and a knack for being around the ball," Heavy.com wrote. "For a Ravens team that has given up too many big plays this year, including a 50-yard touchdown to Justin Jefferson on Sunday, Boston could shore up the backside of the defense after Elliott's injury. He's extremely reliable in deep coverage, where his years of experience and veteran savvy help him read quarterbacks and diagnose plays.
"Defensive Coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale loves versatile, multi-positional players, and Boston could be his latest find. While Boston has spent the majority of his career as a high free safety, he also has substantial experience playing in the box and as a slot cornerback. With several injuries to inside linebackers and defensive backs in Baltimore this season, Boston's ability to cover multiple positions could come in handy for the Ravens."
However, Boston's diminished tackling ability could be a concern.
"While he was a solid tackler in the first few seasons of his career, Boston has since struggled to finish plays, missing at least 12 tackles in each of the last three seasons, per PFF," Heavy.com wrote.