The Ravens Lamar Jackson NFL Draft story is a perfect blend of sneakiness and risk-taking
In a way, Lamar Jackson was the final gift former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome gave to the franchise. The year-old retired after the season, months after he and heir-apparent GM Eric DeCosta used the last pick of the first round to draft the quarterback who's now wrecking the NFL.
And yes, it's Newsome and DeCosta, not an entire department of scouts and talent evaluators, who are primarily responsible for the draft pick that changed the Ravens' future for the better.
In an interview with NBC Sports' Peter King following Baltimore's blowout win over Houston in November, a game in which the second-year QB continued his MVP-caliber season with four passing touchdowns, DeCosta told the story of Jackson's selection on Day 1 of the NFL Draft. Jackson, 22, was the fifth quarterback taken at the end of a first round that featured four others (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen) going in the top Turns out that's exactly how Newsome and DeCosta hoped the draft would play out.
MORE: Jackson dominates player voting for Offensive Player of the Year
"We wanted quantity that day," said DeCosta, whose team entered the draft holding the 16th overall pick and who, along with Newsome, "secretly loved" the QB from Louisville. "With the way the draft fell that year, we saw a way to really improve our offense. We were hoping the phone was gonna ring, starting at "
Thanks to the Bills, the phone did ring, and Baltimore in a trade with Buffalo moved back to No. "We get to 22, and all of the players we liked are still there,” DeCosta said. "So we traded again."
The Ravens utilized a deal with the Titans to move back to No. 25, where they selected tight end Hayden Hurst, a player DeCosta said they "loved." Jackson, though, was still available. King asked DeCosta whether he and Newsome were worried another team might swoop in and draft him.
"We were. We were," DeCosta allowed. "But I think you’ve got to stay as clinical in the moment as you can, and really just go with all your best information and the plan. So yeah, you’re always nervous. You accept that you’ll lose some players working this way."
DeCosta told King the league-wide doubt surrounding Jackson's prospects as an NFL QB was helpful. (Looking at you, Bill Polian). The Ravens also felt confident they could land Jackson thanks to their sneaky approach to evaluating him prior to the draft.
"We didn’t even interview Lamar at the Combine because we didn’t want to be associated with him," DeCosta said. "We didn’t want rumors about us and him to start. They didn’t. We were proud of that."
As the end of the first round neared, Newsome and DeCosta decided it was time to make a move. They called Howie Roseman, GM of the Super Bowl-champion Eagles and owner of the No. 32 overall pick, who was willing to trade back to No. 52 as long as the Ravens gave up their second-round pick in addition to their second-rounder.
To the surprise of everybody but Newsome and DeCosta, the Eagles and Ravens had a deal. Baltimore traded into the last pick of the first round and selected Jackson.
"We didn’t share what we were going to try and do with anybody," DeCosta said. "Drafts are strange like that. It’s just Ozzie and me at the end of the table, the only ones who really know. When you’re trying to make a decision as important as that, you try and keep it as quiet as you can. Because it’s not that you don’t want to share it with people, but the downside — which would be losing the player — is much greater than the upside of sharing the information with somebody that you care about."
Added DeCosta regarding the aftermath of the Jackson selection: “I think it’s probably the first time in my 24 years that you could hear cheering outside the draft room. You could hear the coaches and you could hear the scouts. That was a powerful moment for us."
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It's clear now those emotions were warranted. The Ravens, who earned the AFC's No. 1 seed with a record in the regular season, led the NFL with 3, rushing yards, the most by a team in a single season in league history. They also led NFL with rushing yards per game, making them the first team since the Bears to average more than rushing yards per game.
And we all know why.
Jackson broke Michael Vick's single-season NFL rushing record for a quarterback with his 1, yards on the ground. He also led the league with 36 touchdown passes. As a result, the Ravens easily led the NFL with points per game. They put up 40 or more points in five games.
So, yeah: Good thing Newsome and DeCosta can keep a secret.
Lamar Jackson on game-sealing fourth-down run: I had to 'get this first down no matter what'
Harbaugh's decision to go for it added 25 percent to the win probability, per Next Gen Stats.
The two-yard gain capped a comeback win for the Ravens that rescued them from another defeat to the Chiefs and an start to the campaign.
Instead, Jackson's Ravens are despite Jackson having turned the ball over twice in each of the first two games and he won for the first time in four meetings head-to-head with Patrick Mahomes.
"It feels good. It feels good to get that monkey off our back," Jackson said, via ABC Baltimore's Shawn Stepner.
Jackson threw a pick-six on Baltimore's first possession of the game to Tyrann Mathieu and tossed another one to the Honey Badger in the opening quarter.
It was a bad start that hardly foreshadowed the great ending to come.
Jackson finished the game going for passing for yards and a touchdown, and added yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Those three touchdowns all came in the second half.
It was a 2-yard Jackson touchdown run with to go in the game that cut the Ravens' deficit to and it was a Jackson 1-yard rush that vaulted Baltimore to its first, last and only lead of the game at with left.
Then came the 2-yard fourth-down conversion that showcased Jackson's ability in the clutch and his coach's confidence in him.
"Man, no matter what, getting that first down," Jackson said in his NBC postgame interview of what was going through his head. "Coach asked me, 'Should we go for it?' I said, 'Hell yeah.'
NFL Draft: Lamar Jackson Drafted
Okay, final pick of the first round. It is the Ravens trading up. Is it for Lamar Jackson which would signal quite a shift at that quarterback position in Baltimore? The Philadelphia Eagles have traded the thirty-second pick to the Baltimore Ravens. With the thirty-second pick in the 2, NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select Lamar Jackson is. Listen to this place go crazy right now. There he is, the Heisman trophy winner from a couple years ago. Michael Irvin giving him a nice hug. I proper to say, I look at our researcher Bill Smith. This has to be the only first round in NFL draft history where the first pick of the night is a Heisman Trophy winner and so is the last. Starting with Baker Mayfield and it finishes with Lamar Jackson going to the Baltimore Ravens and Im glad weve got uh uh weve got two guys who have been in the in in the draft room with Ozzie Newsom, Steve Bashati. Does this signal to you Damon Jeremiah? Theyre going in a whole new direction and Ozzie Newsom even though this is his last draft. Hes trying to get ahead of the curve. Something hes done throughout his career as general manager of the Ravens be ahead of trends, Mike and I think youre gonna see this this its a risk. Its a gamble. No question. Well, were going for it. We talk about an electrifying upside. A little bit raw in the past game but the first time I threw the tape on with the whippy arm and the unbelievable skill and speed. I thought Michael Vick and coach, I agree. Its a commitment philosophically and schematically to a completely different type of football and that whole building has to embrace it. Theres at some point, this guy might be the NFL player of the week. At some point this year, hes gonna have one of those breakout games, no question. I can see it in your eyes. I can see youre a little bit upset, a little deterred, but guess what? Im here. Youre here. Im a Ravens. Its on. All year, every year. Yes, sir. What could you have done differently that you couldve gotten out of that room quicker and got drafted earlier in your career. Nothing. Im happy to be a Ravens. It dont even matter. Yesterday does not matter. Youre looking forward to today. Im looking forward to being a Ravens. What are they getting? Everything out of me. They dont get a Super Bowl out of me. Believe that. Ira.
Over three hours into the NFL Draft, four quarterbacks had already been taken, the Ravens had already made a selection and Lamar Jackson waited, and waited, for his name to be called.
Jackson, one of the best college quarterbacks ever, watched quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen all get picked before him — all in the top 10 selections.
And on draft night, the Ravens were rewarded when they traded back into the first round with the Eagles for the 32nd selection. They sent the 52nd and th picks and a second-round pick to acquire Jackson, a trade that has a clear winner in hindsight.
On the draft stage, immediately after being selected, Jackson did an interview with NFL Network’s Deion Sanders and spoke bluntly about the future.
“I’m a Raven, it’s on,” he said.
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As for his draft slide, that still remains a mystery.
At Louisville in , Jackson threw for 3, yards and ran for 1, with a combined 51 touchdowns. He won the Heisman Trophy, the youngest player to ever win the Heisman. In , he totaled 5, yards and 45 touchdowns, but still found himself facing questions about his NFL career. Famously, he refused to work out as a wide receiver at the NFL Combine.
Revisionist history won’t look kind on the teams that passed on Jackson, though it’s worth pointing out that not even the Ravens thought Jackson would become what he did so quickly.
The Ravens traded out of 16th overall, then 22nd, and selected tight end Hayden Hurst 25th overall. If they’d known he’d hoist an MVP trophy after just his second season, the draft might have gone a bit differently.
Now, the story has been told time and time again. Jackson took the league by storm in and threw for 3, yards and 36 touchdowns while adding 1, yards and seven scores on the ground.
The league’s MVP will be on the cover of Madden 21 in the fall and ranks third in the NFL in jersey sales behind only Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.
As for the rest of the class, their successes haven’t been nearly as immediate.
Mayfield regressed in his second season as a starter and is looking to find his footing once again. Darnold has thrown for 36 touchdowns and 28 interceptions in his first two seasons. Allen’s legs have given him a slight edge but his accuracy is still a major question mark, and Rosen is a backup on his second team.
There’s a clear winner of the quarterback class and it’s Jackson, the last quarterback picked in the first round.
In terms of where the Ravens got him and what he’s given the team, even as a first-round pick, he should be viewed as a steal.
Since , the players to have won the MVP award were selected th, 24th, 7th, 1st, 24th, 1st, 3rd, th, 10th and now 32nd in the NFL Draft. Excluding Tom Brady’s th choice, there’s a clear path of players being selected in the top half of the first round winning the award.
And as for the picks the Ravens gave up for the trade to take Jackson? They turned out to be defensive end Kemoko Turay, cornerback Avonte Maddox and running back Miles Sanders.
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The NFL Draft saw five quarterbacks get selected on opening night in the first round and only one — Josh Rosen — neither shined nor at least flashed promise during their first three seasons in the league.
Contrary to the recency bias that the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen sparked with his breakout campaign last season, the last signal-caller taken that night has proved to be the best of the bunch thus far.
That quarterback was Lamar Jackson, who the Baltimore Ravens traded back into the bottom of the first round to draft at No. 32 overall out of Louisville — where he dominated the collegiate level and won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in
Shortly after he was officially announced as the pick by Commissioner Roger Goodell, he walked off the main stage where he conducted a brief interview with NFL Network analyst and Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders. He instantly endeared himself to his new team and their passionate fan base with a promise that went viral.
While fans and media pundits are busy wondering and speculating if and when the former unanimous league MVP will receive a contract extension, that would make him one of the highest-paid players in NFL history, Jackson is focused on ensuring he makes good on his promise.
He emphasized as such while addressing the media on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m not going to lie to you; I’m not really focused on that right now,” Jackson said when asked if he preferred ink a new deal before training camp.
“I’m focused on getting me a Super Bowl. I’m focused on getting better. I’m focused on working with my teammates right now.”
Jackson has led the Ravens to two AFC North division titles and three straight postseason berths since becoming the full-time starter midway through his rookie year. However, the team has yet to make it past the Divisional Round of the playoffs over that span.
He was able to start and finish both of his first two playoff losses but had to watch from the locker room in the fourth quarter of the third, because he suffered a concussion on the last play of the third quarter. He got slammed to the turf on the first offensive snap after throwing a crucial interception on the previous possession. Bills’ DB Taron Johnson returned the pick-six yards for a pivotal score in Buffalo’s Divisional Round win over the Ravens.
“I’m still ticked off. I’m going to always be ticked off losing,” Jackson said. “I don’t care how old the game was – I really don’t – I’m going to always remember that loss more than a victory and what you did in a victory.”
The Ravens have ushered in a golden age of offensive success with Jackson at the helm and have won more than three times as many games () in the regular and postseason combined with him as the starter.
Both General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh have been adamant throughout the offseason that the organization is committed to Jackson as the face of the franchise long-term and that an extension will get worked out eventually. However, neither side is rushing to put pen to paper and is more concerned with achieving the ultimate goal of winning it all.
“Lamar is confident, and Lamar understands what’s important,” Harbaugh said. “Look at what he’s done. He’s going to get paid. He knows that. The question becomes, what’s he going to do? What’s his legacy going to be as a quarterback? That’s what he’s focused on.”
Winning a Super Bowl wouldn’t just cement Jackson’s legacy in both Baltimore sports and NFL lore and history, it’d be a life-changing achievement for him that trumps all the individual accolades he’s accrued and the records he’s broken.
“When they win it, it’s like your whole life just changed,” Jackson said. “The excitement I see, the feeling … like holding the [Lombardi] Trophy up and stuff like that.
“I’m always going to stress this until I get it – until I get me one. I’m trying to win a Super Bowl. MVPs and stuff like that, having winning records and stuff, that’s cool, but I want to bring me a Lombardi here myself.”
Jackson succeeded a former Super Bowl MVP and champion in former Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who led the team to a magical run to win their second title in franchise history when he was in the final year of his rookie contract in
“Everybody else got one,” said Jackson. “The quarterback before me had one – Joe [Flacco]. He did a great job with the team. He won one. So, I want to come in and win me one, so I can feel accomplished and be like, ‘OK, we did that! I won me one. My teammates, we stepped it up. We did what we were supposed to do.”
“Then I can sit back when I have grandkids and stuff and be like, ‘Yes, we did that,’ and talk my trash like ‘old heads’ do – talk my trash to the young generation about what we did. So, that’s what I’m trying to do – win a Super Bowl. Then we can talk about legacy.”
Unlike Flacco, who needed a historic playoff run in to break the bank even though he helped guide the team to at least the AFC title game in three of his first five seasons, Jackson has already proved he’s worth a significant financial investment.
The Ravens roster and offensive scheme are built to accentuate his dynamic dual-threat skill set so getting a deal done is inevitable. The fact that Jackson and Co. are seemingly solely focused on the task at hand should ease the minds of their fans, even if it does result in less speculative clickbait content.
The Ravens didn't interview Lamar Jackson before the draft because they didn't want rumors to spread about how badly they wanted him
- The Baltimore Ravens traded up for the 32nd pick to take Lamar Jackson in the NFL draft.
- According to Peter King of NBC Sports, the Ravens feigned uninterest in Jackson before the draft, choosing not to interview him so there wouldn't be any rumors connecting them to Jackson.
- Jackson has made the decision look smart this season, as he appears to be the frontrunner for MVP and a franchise quarterback for a Super Bowl contender.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The Baltimore Ravens' decision to trade up in the draft to take Lamar Jackson with the 32nd overall pick has looked brilliant this season.
Jackson may have moved to the front of the MVP race on Sunday as he completed 17 of 24 passes for yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions while adding 86 rushing yards to help the Ravens beat the Houston Texans , their sixth win in a row.
According to NBC Sports' Peter King, for the Ravens to land their game-changing quarterback nearly two years ago, they had to act uninterested in him in the lead-up to the draft.
Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' general manager, told King that they were interested in drafting Jackson but wanted to make sure they were never linked to him.
"We didn't even interview Lamar at the combine because we didn't want to be associated with him," DeCosta said. "We didn't want rumors about us and him to start. They didn't. We were proud of that."
The Ravens had just one pick, No. 16 overall, in the first round. They first traded the 16th pick and a fifth-round pick to the Buffalo Bills for the 22nd overall pick and 65th (third-round) pick. They flipped those two picks for the 25th overall pick, which they used to draft tight end Hayden Hurst, and th pick (fourth round).
When Lamar Jackson was still on the board, the Ravens then sent the Philadelphia Eagles a second-round pick (No. 52), the th pick, and a pick for the 32nd pick and the nd pick (fourth round). They used No. 32 to select Jackson."We felt like there was a pretty good chance that Lamar might be there later in the first round, early part of the second round," DeCosta said. "We were willing, if we could, to trade back, trade back, accumulate capital, and then possibly either try to trade back again or in a second round, make a play and get Lamar at that point. But, you know, it was a risk."
Some people within the Ravens were unaware that DeCosta and the general manager at the time, Ozzie Newsome, were targeting Jackson.
"Drafts are strange like that. It's just Ozzie and me at the end of the table, the only ones who really know," DeCosta told King. "When you're trying to make a decision as important as that, you try and keep it as quiet as you can. Because it's not that you don't want to share it with people, but the downside — which would be losing the player — is much greater than the upside of sharing the information with somebody that you care about."
It helped the Ravens that there were questions about Jackson leading up to the draft. Bill Polian, a former NFL general manager, said he thought Jackson was a receiver, not a quarterback, at the NFL level. One team had asked him to work out as a wide receiver; Jackson refused, insisting on playing as a quarterback.This season, Jackson has made those predraft concerns look silly. He's already thrown for 2, yards and 19 touchdowns with just five interceptions. His passer rating is fourth among quarterbacks, and his ability to run the ball has added another dynamic to the Ravens offense.
Jackson, of course, hasn't forgotten those slights. After throwing for yards, five touchdowns, and a perfect passer rating in Week 1, Jackson quipped, "Not bad for a running back."
At one point in time, Jackson probably saw the Ravens as one of his doubters. It turns out, they believed in him and had to feign disinterest to get him.
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Chapter three. Ira slept under my armpit, curled up into a ball. She likes to sleep naked, but recently I insisted that after our love games, she put on her pajamas. Otherwise, I cannot sleep, from the touch of her body, everything inside me trembles.
In general, I decided that it was time to cut our games down to at least three times a week.