Ray Lewis and Tom Brady LOVE Lamar Jackson, Who Was Mocked to Ravens at No. 16
Analysts are split on whether quarterback Lamar Jackson's dynamic dual-threat approach will translate to the NFL. He's athletic and can make plays with both his arm and legs, but his accuracy and ability to stand in the pocket and read coverages are criticized.
Will the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner succeed in the NFL?
Two GOATs certainly think so.
Tom Brady might be the greatest quarterback of all-time with a completely different drop-back and stationary style, yet he went out of his way to comment on an Instagram post featuring NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks suggesting that Jackson could be a strong option for Brady's New England Patriots in the draft.
Brady replied, calling Jackson a "beast!!!!"
Ray Lewis, who is perhaps the greatest linebacker of all-time and defended countless successful NFL quarterbacks, laughed at the idea that Jackson is like Tim Tebow. Tebow is one of the most decorated college quarterbacks ever, but he only lasted three full seasons in the NFL.
"Tebow?!? No way," Lewis exclaimed in the "Speak for Yourself" video below. "[Jackson's] a complete football player at the quarterback position at every level. There is no weakness he has from the quarterback position.
"They said Michael Vick had the same problem. Jackson's gift is making plays out of the pocket like Russell Wilson. Right? It's a magic-man thing. They know in the front seven, nobody is going to be able to deal with them. I'm just telling you, I've watched this boy since he was a freshman. I studied this boy."
While Brooks believes that the Patriots are interested in drafting Jackson, the draft guru isn't so sure the athletic quarterback will last until New England's pick at No. 23.
In his latest mock draft, Brooks has the Ravens selecting Jackson at No. 16. So instead of waiting behind Brady to develop, Jackson could do the same thing in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.
"With Joe Flacco viewed as a potential salary-cap casualty in 2019, the Ravens can secure their future QB by grabbing Jackson if he is available at No. 16," wrote Brooks. "Remember, Ravens Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and Assistant Head Coach Greg Roman have experience nurturing athletic quarterbacks into dynamic playmakers (see Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Colin Kaepernick), so the Ravens could be the perfect fit for the 2016 Heisman winner."
NFL Not Overlooking D.J. Moore Like It Did With Stefon Diggs
Has the NFL learned its lesson about ignoring receivers from Maryland?
The national attention on Terps receiver D.J. Moore was delayed, as buzz really didn't build until the NFL Scouting Combine in late-February, but at least it did arrive. That never really happened for Terps alum Stefon Diggs, who wasn't selected until the fifth round of the 2015 draft.
"It shouldn't have taken until his NFL Combine for people to pay attention to D.J. Moore, but his draft hype train didn't arrive until late," wrote SB Nation's Alex Kirshner. "Now he's a possible first-rounder after years of relative anonymity in one of the worst passing offenses in major college football."
Moore and Diggs are two different players, and Diggs had injury concerns coming out of college, but Kirshner believes that both were underrated because they played at Maryland. Both succeeded through sheer willpower as the main targets for struggling quarterbacks. Defenses could key in on them, and they still produced.
Even though the tape is the most important indicator that Moore will succeed in the NFL, it wasn't until scouts personally saw him dazzle at the Combine that he really started to move up draft boards.
"Moore will be one of the first few receivers drafted. A few months ago, the NFL's evaluators didn't think he should leave school," Kirshner wrote. "This is the Maryland effect, again.
"The NFL has already figured out Moore's legit. So, really, he's already proven wrong anybody who didn't think he should be here."
Ravens Showing Interest in TE Hayden Hurst
Baltimore is showing interest in top tight end Hayden Hurst, according to ESPN.
That's not surprising seeing as a pass-catching tight end is considered the biggest glaring hole remaining on the roster at this point. The Ravens only have Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams under contract, and while both can catch, their strength is blocking.
Unless the Ravens trade back in the first round or move up in the second, it seems unlikely that they'll land the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder. Hurst, 25, is projected to be picked late in the first round.
In three seasons, Hurst caught 100 passes for 1,281 yards and three touchdowns. He's a bit older because he first pursued a baseball career before turning back to football.
ESPN's Mel Kiper doesn't think there are any tight ends worth the 16th overall pick, and instead mocked Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews to the Ravens in the second round.
"Hurst is a big, athletic tight end with reliable hands," wrote Baltimore Beatdown's Logan Levy. "Hurst, with his speed and size combination, can create mismatches, which is what Baltimore desperately needs at the tight end position. However, his age and poor route-running are clearly the biggest knocks on him.
"The Ravens could be more interested in Dallas Goedert or Mike Gesicki, who are considered top tight ends as well. It will be interesting to see how to Ravens plan to upgrade the tight end position."
Will Michael Crabtree Ditch the Chain in Training Camp Practice Aqib Talib Coming to Town?
Training camp just got a lot more interesting.
Not only will fans be able to spice things up with their return to the renovated Under Armour Performance Center, but now they'll be able to see the much-anticipated matchup between wide receiver Michael Crabtree and L.A. Rams cornerback Aqib Talib.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know Crabtree and Talib have dueled twice after Talib ripped off Crabtree's chain … twice.
Something tells me that neither John Harbaugh nor Sean McVay will be interested in a third brawl between the two. So, either Crabtree may want to leave the chain behind or Talib will have to exercise more control.
"Given what's gone on in the past between the two players, Crabtree might want to keep his chain in his locker rather than around his neck for those workouts," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Josh Alper.
Deadline on Willie Snead Quickly Approaching
If the Ravens want to bring New Orleans restricted free-agent wide receiver Willie Snead to Baltimore, they will have to sign him to an offer sheet in the next week.
Russell Street Report's Tony Lombardi pointed out that April 20 is the deadline to sign restricted free agents, then their home teams have five days to decide whether to match it or let their player walk.
"The loss of [Michael] Campanaro takes away a slot option and the team's punt returner," Lombardi wrote. "One potential replacement is Snead, but time is running out on that possibility."
Ranking 18 Quarterback Classes Since 2000
NFL.com's Marc Sessler ranked all 18 quarterback classes of the 2000s, and Flacco's 2008 group came in at No. 6.
"The 2008 group gave us Matt Ryan – who is presently one year removed from the best season of his career – and Joe Flacco, who led the Ravens to a win in Super Bowl XLVII with an insane month of pristine postseason play," Sessler wrote.
"Flacco is on the downswing, but both quarterbacks have been durable starters who give their teams a solution at the most important position in sports. The names fall off a cliff from there, with Chad Henne underwhelming as a starter and Brian Brohm serving as a second-round disappointment. Matt Flynn offered hopeful moments but failed to become a QB1."
The top-five classes were:
5) 2001: Michael Vick, Drew Brees
4) 2003: Carson Palmer, Tony Romo
3) 2012: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III III, Russell Wilson, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins
2) 2005: Alex Smith, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Anderson, Matt Cassell
1) 2004: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub