Ravens make last-gasp trade to pick Jackson
A first round full of surprises had one final twist as the Baltimore Ravens traded up to the 32nd pick to select Lamar Jackson.
Jackson had seen a fellow Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield taken first overall by the Cleveland Browns, with three other quarterbacks going ahead of him as Sam Darnold went to the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals traded up to take Josh Allen and Josh Rosen respectively.
It looked as it Jackson would have to wait until day two to hear his name called, but the Ravens traded two second-rounders - one in 2019 - and a fourth-rounder to the Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles to make Jackson their quarterback of the future.
Despite throwing for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns and running for another 4,132 yards and 50 scores at Louisville, Jackson's pre-draft process was dominated by talk that he was too small and slight to succeed at quarterback in the NFL and should switch to receiver, with some teams reportedly asking him to work out at that position.
“I can’t wait to get to Baltimore. Let’s go.” - @Lj_era8 #RavensFlock pic.twitter.com/fhKtR9nIOf
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) April 27, 2018
But Jackson refused to do so and has now been vindicated in his decision not to entertain a position switch, the Ravens making a move that signals a dramatic change in approach at quarterback for the franchise.
Jackson's ability to make spectacular plays with his arm and his legs is in stark contrast to the skill set of Ravens starter Joe Flacco, who is a traditional pocket quarterback and has struggled after signing a six-year $120.6million contract after winning Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.
Flacco has no more guaranteed money left on his contract after the 2018 season and, with Jackson arriving after the Ravens signed another dual-threat quarterback Robert Griffin III in free agency, it is clear change is coming under center in Baltimore.