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Round 1: Ravens Trade up to Select Quarterback Lamar Jackson


The Ravens pulled off the shocker of all shockers before Thursday night was over.

Baltimore selected Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick of the 2018 NFL Draft in a major move that could, down the road, usher in a new era of offensive football.

Just when it looked like the Ravens were done on Day 1 after selecting Hayden Hurst, they moved back up into the end of the first round in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.

After the Jackson pick was made, General Manager Ozzie Newsome was thrilled, saying the team's first-round was "masterful" and "unbelievable."

Jackson, who sported a green suit jacket and was one of the biggest stars at the draft's spectacle in Dallas, was relieved and motivated. Ever since visiting Baltimore a couple weeks ago, he had a feeling he would become a Raven, but he didn't think it would take that long.

"I'm happy to be a Raven, it doesn't even matter," Jackson said from the AT&T Stadium stage. "They're going to get a Super Bowl out of me. Believe that."

The Ravens traded their second-round pick (No. 52 overall), and second fourth-round pick (No. 125), which they acquired in an earlier trade to move down, to jump in the first round. Baltimore also sent a 2019 second-round pick. It was a 20-pick jump to grab Jackson.

Picking Jackson means the Ravens now have major questions and talent at quarterback.

Joe Flacco is slated to be the starter in 2018, but Baltimore could part ways with its Super Bowl-winning quarterback after next season.

If Jackson sits and learns in Year 1, that may suit him and the Ravens best. Jackson can still develop as a pocket passer and, if he's going to take over as the starter, it would likely require an offensive overhaul since one of his greatest assets is his ability to run – completely different from Flacco.

Jackson put up eye-popping stats in his three college seasons. In a Heisman Trophy-winning 2016 campaign, he passed for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He also rushed for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Last season, Jackson threw for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ran for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns.

He's drawn comparisons to former Pro Bowler Michael Vick and impressive Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, though some analysts questioned his ability to remain at the quarterback position.

"He's a quarterback through and through, and he's a playmaker," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

"When you look at stats and you evaluate him, he does all the things that any quarterback does. But we do some analytics and when the ball is in his hands, there hadn't been a better playmaker, really, in the last few years coming out [of the draft]. He's a great quarterback."

Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta called Jackson a "unique talent."

Jackson's ability to make defenders miss as a runner is special. He has a strong enough arm to make every throw and makes good anticipation passes in reading coverage. But he still has room to grow as a true passer.

The Ravens brought Jackson into Baltimore as one of their official 30 visits to get a closer look at the intriguing prospect. Newsome said Jackson was a consideration with their No. 16-overall pick, but Baltimore knew it could wait and get him later.

"When he came in and sat with me on his 30 [player] visit, I came away feeling very good about the kid, the person," Newsome said. "Then you watch the tape and yes, there is some development. But every player that we take, regardless of position, needs some developing."

The Ravens felt like the value was too good to pass up, so they aggressively moved back into the first round to grab him. Now they have a talented player eager to prove Baltimore made the right decision, and that he can be a game-changing quarterback.

"There is a chip on my shoulder," Jackson said. "Both shoulders, yes sir."

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