If you remember, a year ago I thought it would be “ludicrous” for the Baltimore Ravens to draft a quarterback (early). Remarkably, the Ravens were undeterred and chose to go about their business anyway, making their own personnel decisions.
And despite the Ravens completely ignoring me, drafting Lamar Jackson in the first round and building the franchise around him moving forward, I am undeterred. Heroically I am choosing to go about my business anyway, making my own quarterbacking hot takes.
I think the Baltimore Ravens made a mistake in drafting a quarterback last year. I’ve already explained that. And now I think the Baltimore Ravens need to draft another quarterback in 2019.
In fact, I think it would be “ludicrous” if the Ravens didn’t select a signal caller this season.
Before you get too worked up, I’m not suggesting they should be trying to nab Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray to take the “Number One Spot” away from Jackson. That WOULD be
Ludacris ludicrous. Much like my opinion a year ago, I don’t think the Ravens should be spending a pick in the top three rounds on a quarterback.
Allow me to explain. So we know the Ravens will be moving on from Joe Flacco one way or another this offseason. With backup Robert Griffin III also a free agent, that will leave them with only Jackson on the roster. Harbaugh addressed what type of quarterback he’d like to have behind Jackson in his season-ending press conference January 25.
“I would probably lean toward the backup being similar to Lamar, that’s what I would hope we would be able to do,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously RGIII is a great option there. I’ve seen something written about Tyrod [Taylor]. I don’t know what Tyrod’s gonna be wanting to do, but, and there are others out there like that who can do those things.”
So let’s cut through that. The Ravens can certainly bring Griffin back. He would like to go to a team where he’d have a chance to play, but envisioning an option for that in 2019 is difficult. Ditto for Taylor at this point, although his chances are certainly better than Griffin’s.
Whether one of those two is brought back (or the Ravens find another mobile type of quarterback on the open market), however, has nothing to do with why the Ravens should draft another field general. But the reason certainly does center around Griffin. Let’s hop in the wayback machine for a second.
The year is 2012. The Washington Redskins have traded multiple picks to move up and select Griffin No. 2 overall, building their franchise around him moving forward. But in the fourth round of the same draft, the team decided to double up and take Kirk Cousins from Michigan State.
Within only a few years, Griffin’s career was permanently altered due to injury, and Cousins was the franchise quarterback leading the Redskins to the playoffs in 2015 before signing a massive free-agent deal with the Minnesota Vikings.
I think the Ravens need to protect themselves should a similar story play out in Baltimore.
Obviously we’d all like to see Jackson’s quarterbacking style evolve a bit moving forward. We’d like to see him focus a bit more on being a passer instead of a runner. As dangerous as he is with his feet, there’s a serious risk of significant injury that is heightened when quarterbacks are more apt to take off downfield.
But the Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson knowing that he was … Lamar Jackson. Whatever they attempt to do with him, he’s likely never going to alter his skill set to more replicate Flacco. He’s going to use his feet. He’s going to take risks.
He may well get hurt. Let’s not forget he had to leave multiple games in his rookie season due to injury already. There should be nothing controversial about saying Jackson’s skill set leaves him more susceptible to a serious injury than the average quarterback.
Drafting a quarterback would allow the Ravens the opportunity to attempt to develop a “shadow starter” type of quarterback moving forward. A player who could step in long term if necessary should Jackson be seriously hurt or who could show their value in shorter appearances if Jackson misses a game or two here and there.
In a perfect world, Jackson remains healthy but a well-thought-of young quarterback sees the field occasionally and looks credible (while also putting together quality game tape) and becomes a valuable commodity on the trade market.
And then there’s the other scenario we probably don’t want to talk about. It’s the one where maybe Jackson never actually improves as a passer and what happened against the Chargers is a sign of teams being able to catch up with the Ravens’ dominant run scheme. That’s the scenario in which perhaps Jackson isn’t really the best long-term option for the Ravens under center and having another young option could be helpful, with the added bonus of that secondary quarterback having extra time to develop.
Who is the player I’m thinking about? There is no shortage of options. Players like West Virginia’s Will Grier, Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson and many more could fit the bill.
Should it be the Ravens’ top priority this offseason? Of course not. But is it a scenario the teams needs to consider? Absolutely. Ignoring it would be ludicrous.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox
Issue 251: February 2019