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Lamar Jackson Drafted by Ravens; Twitter Hails Him as the Future over Joe Flacco

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2018

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 25:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals throws a  pass against the Kentucky Wildcats during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on November 25, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was selected with the No. 32 pick in the first round Thursday by the Baltimore Ravens

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Lamar Jackson is ready to prove the doubters wrong in Baltimore! https://t.co/zz2WTIlLod

Baltimore Ravens @Ravens

Hey, @Lj_era8 👋 https://t.co/xzqEujoBsj

The Ravens traded back into the first round to get Jackson, announcing they sent the 52nd and 125th selections in 2018 and a 2019 second-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for this year's 32nd and 132nd picks. Baltimore had previously selected South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst with the No. 25 pick.

Ravens quarterback Robert Griffin III and safety Tony Jefferson welcomed their new teammate:

Robert Griffin III @RGIII

Congrats young fella @Lj_era8 Let's get to work!!!

Tony Jefferson @_tonyjefferson

Let’s go like I said ...in Ozzie we trust !!! Lamar Jackson !!!!

General manager Ozzie Newsome is leaving his post after the 2018 season, so this is his final NFL draft. Many praised Newsome for setting up the next front office for success:

Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless

GOOD FOR OZZIE NEWSOME IN HIS LAST DRAFT. JUST TRADED UP TO TAKE LAMAR JACKSON AT 32. I'VE SEEN ENOUGH OF FLUKE-O. I KNOW HE'S BEEN SHOCKINGLY GREAT IN THE PLAYOFFS BUT HE'S BEEN ROUTINELY LOUSY IN REG SEASON. LAMAR IS THE RAVENS FUTURE.

Evan Silva @evansilva

Ozzie Newsome leaving behind #Ravens franchise QB of future is a legit courageous and powerful move. Lamar Jackson is an individual to bet on, not against.

Andrew Siciliano @AndrewSiciliano

Ozzie Newsome didn’t trade up to get ahead of Cleveland at #33. He traded up to get the 5th year on that 1st round contract.

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Ravens were not going to be bringing Joe Flacco back in 2019 at his pricepoint and cap number. Were always deep in on QBs in this draft. Ozzie goes big on the way out. Huge.

Many praised the Ravens for finding a likely successor to Joe Flacco:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

Hard to imagine a better offensive coordinator for Lamar Jackson than Marty Mornhinweg, who had Michael Vick. The #Ravens likely have him sit a year, learn, then fully commit to a new offense for 2019.

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

Marty Mornhinweg had himself a very mobile QB in Philly with Mike Vick. He's got one now in Lamar Jackson. (And RG3 too.) Wonder how he'll approach developing Jackson with the non-mobile Joe Flacco at the helm.

Matt Hinton @MattRHinton

Starting Joe Flacco with Lamar Jackson sitting on the bench is going to be like telling a kid he has to finish his spinach before he can have dessert.

Eric Wood @EWood70

Lamar Jackson will go to the Ravens and be with Greg Roman who coached two mobile quarterback, Tyrod Taylor and Colin Kaepernick, to Pro Bowls. Great fit!

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

After this season, Ravens QB Joe Flacco has no more guaranteed money on his contract. And Baltimore now has taken Lamar Jackson.

The major question for Jackson coming into the draft process was whether he would be a quarterback or a wide receiver during his NFL career.

As a signal-caller at Louisville, he won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and threw for 7,203 yards, 57 touchdowns and 19 interceptions over the past two seasons while also rushing for 3,172 yards and another 39 scores.

If he stays at quarterback, he has the athleticism to have a Michael Vick-esque impact at the next level. But there are questions about his ability to make an impact in the pocket given his completion percentage sat at 57 percent in college.

ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Bill Polian, for instance, doesn't see Jackson as a quarterback at the next level.

"I think [he's a] wide receiver," Polian told ESPN when discussing Jackson's best future position in February (h/t Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk). "Exceptional athlete, exceptional ability to make you miss, exceptional acceleration, exceptional instinct with the ball in his hand and that's rare for wide receivers. That's [Antonio Brown], and who else? Name me another one. Julio [Jones is] not even like that."

NFL front office personnel, meanwhile, seem to be torn on Jackson.

"With as much natural talent he has, there's developmental potential," an NFC player personnel director told B/R's Matt Miller in December. "The key will be how well his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach can create a scheme for him—like Kyle Shanahan with Robert Griffin III—so he can have success early. Then you have to build on that success so defenses don't catch up to him."

A former NFL general manager mused on Jackson's situation when speaking to Miller: "Well, I think the first question is what is he? I don't think he's a great passer despite good arm strength. I don't think he's a powerful enough runner to have success on the ground. So he'll have to learn to be a better thrower and stop relying on his legs. And if that doesn't work, move him to receiver." 

Greg Cosell of NFL Films shared his scouting report on the player:

Greg Cosell @gregcosell

Today's evaluation is Lamar Jackson. A lot there, and a lot of factors and variables as you transition him to the NFL. Smart reasonable people will have different points of view re: Jackson. There's no question he will generate much discussion in NFL organizations. https://t.co/0e0MBuqLKa

And plenty of people believe he'll absolutely be a quarterback at the next level:

Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL

Derek Carr said he’s high on all of draft’s top QBs. “I really love Lamar Jackson, though. I think in the right position, with the right coaching, he’s a special, special talent. ... He can do a lot of damage, especially if teams want to play man.”

Barrett Sallee @BarrettSallee

"This is a guy who can be Michael Vick at his best." - @RoddyJones20 on Lamar Jackson with me and @Andy_Staples on @ESPNUonSiriusXM 84

Matt Bowen @MattBowen41

I go back to playing against Michael Vick when studying Lamar Jackson. There were certain coverages/pressures we just couldn’t run against Vick. Too dynamic with the ball in his hands. Rare stuff...And I think Jackson could have a similar impact as he develops in the NFL. https://t.co/Rv9EXNG10P

One thing just about everyone can agree on, however, is Jackson is dynamic when he has the ball in space.

There will be a role for Jackson in the NFL, whether he's utilized as a quarterback, wide receiver or gets to play a specialized, hybrid role that players such as Kordell Stewart and Antwaan Randle El played in the past for NFL teams.

Obviously, Baltimore believes he has the ability to be special at the next level, and his selection will energize the fans, as their team has just brought aboard arguably one of the most dynamic weapons in this draft.

And having Flacco as the incumbent starter in 2018 should aid in Jackson's long-term development, since he won't need to take the No. 1 job right out of the gate.

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