Lamar Jackson prefers playing quarterback to playing general manager.
However, during a Tuesday video conference, it was not surprising that Jackson was asked about the Ravens' upcoming draft, because teams often make decisions with their franchise quarterback in mind. Pundits have called this year's draft class one of the deepest ever at wide receiver, meaning Jackson may soon have a new target to throw to.
What does Jackson want the Ravens to do?
"Get the guys we need," Jackson said. "We need a replacement for Marshal [Yanda]. Marshal was that guy – first-ballot Hall of Famer – [so] we need a guy for him. And whoever else we need, come in and help get us a championship."
Coming off the best regular season (14-2) in franchise history, the Ravens enter the draft with fewer obvious needs than most teams. However, Yanda's retirement after a Hall of Fame-worthy career leaves a vacancy at right guard and starting center Matt Skura continues to rebab from a season-ending knee injury.
That makes the offensive line one of Baltimore's priorities in the draft. The Ravens set the all-time team rushing record for a single season in 2019, and Jackson set the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season. The offensive line played a huge part in that, and the Ravens are expected to come away with at least one offensive lineman. if not two in this year's draft.
When it comes to adding more offensive weapons around him, Jackson didn't seem to put it high on the priority list.
"I doubt that I am going to be carrying the ball a lot going further into the future, because we have dynamic running backs and even more receivers," Jackson said. "We have 'Hollywood' [Marquise Brown], Mark Andrews, Nick [Boyle], Willie Snead IV, Miles [Boykin], [so] we are going to be pretty good, and I don't think I'll be running a lot. Like I said, we have great running backs in Justice Hill, Gus [Edwards] and Mark [Ingram II]. We should be good."
Just two years ago, Jackson entered the draft not knowing which team would select him. He had a long wait on draft night, sitting in the green room until the final pick of the first round when the Ravens traded up to select him.
That experience contributed to Jackson entering the NFL with a chip on his shoulder, knowing many people doubted that he would be a successful quarterback. Jackson certainly was not expected to win the Most Valuable Player Award in his second season. Had he been entering the league this season, Jackson believes his draft stock would have been hurt by not being able to visit teams prior to the draft, denying him the chance to impress them further with his ability and personality.
"Probably dramatically, because they were already saying I was a running back, and this and that," Jackson said. "So, I would have been fighting bad right there to show them that I'm a quarterback. It would have been bad for me, probably."
Just two years into his career, Jackson has silenced many of his critics and he feels fortunate to be drafted by the Ravens, an organization that has committed to helping him succeed. Now when Jackson reflects on being passed over 31 times before he was finally picked, he does it with a different perspective.
"I feel like everything happens for a reason," Jackson said. "In the moment, I was ticked-off, like, 'Why am I not getting picked?' But, as life goes on, and once you're in the league and producing, you have that chip on your shoulder, so you are going to go out there and show people how you felt in the moment. Just go out there and be you and look good.
"But, back to that night, it was great. I loved every moment of it, even sitting back now as I think of it."
Jackson said that he might spend time with one of this year's top wide receiver draft prospects on Thursday night.
"(Alabama wide receiver) Jerry Jeudy invited me to his draft party, so I might show up there," Jackson said.