With training camp right around the corner, we're breaking down each position's competition. Today is the quarterbacks.
In the Hunt
- Robert Griffin III, 7th season
- Lamar Jackson, 2nd season
- Trace McSorley, rookie
Jackson is the starting point for most conversation about the Ravens. He is the franchise's most important player and he's 22 years old. That's a huge responsibility, but the Ravens are totally committed to Jackson both as a player and leader. The offense has been redesigned to fit Jackson's skillset and General Manager Eric DeCosta surrounded Jackson with more weapons, including veteran running back Mark Ingram and three rookie playmakers – wide receivers Marquise "Hollywood" Brown and Miles Boykin and running back Justice Hill.
For Jackson, training camp will be about mastering the new offense, continuing to work on his throwing accuracy and building chemistry with his targets. To evaluate Jackson strictly within the prism of how he looks throwing a football at training camp doesn't do him justice. He may never rank with the best passers in the game. But on Sundays, Jackson is an electrifying game-changer, perhaps the fastest and most elusive player ever at his position. He's been a dynamic player from Pee Wee football to the NFL. Last season he was the catalyst for the Ravens' 6-1 regular-season finish that won them the AFC North.
The threat of Jackson's running gives Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman a unique weapon which defenses must account for. The Ravens believe they have only scratched the surface of what Jackson can do, especially as he grows as a quarterback with more weapons around him. Imagine if Jackson builds on his ability to buy time in the pocket and creates more time for receivers to get open. Imagine if he connects with those receivers more consistently, with more accuracy. The big play possibilities are obvious.
He may not play much during the preseason, because the Ravens want him healthy for Week 1. But Jackson will look to use training camp to accelerate his development as an all-around quarterback. It's still very early in his career, but to have a special season, the Ravens need Jackson to play well.
McSorley's most important battle will be to secure a 53-man roster spot as a sixth-round pick, and to prove he should be active on game days. As he mentioned during an interview on The Lounge Podcast, McSorely has taken reps during offseason workouts as a quarterback and punt returner, and he might be used as an all-around offensive weapon, the way the New Orleans Saints use backup quarterback Taysom Hill.
However, McSorley's role isn't guaranteed despite his versatility. The Ravens carried three quarterbacks last season, but many NFL teams have just two on the 53-man roster. McSorley needs to show he's good enough to contribute on Sundays as a rookie, and how he performs in preseason games and practices will be interesting to watch.
Under the Radar
Griffin re-signing with the Ravens was overshadowed by other transactions, but it was very important. Many teams don't have a backup quarterback as talented and experienced as Griffin. The Ravens like his ability and attitude and believe they can win games with Griffin should Jackson suffer an injury. Griffin will use training camp and preseason to hone his mastery of the offense and to get ready to play well should he be called upon during the regular season.