Well the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft was certainly exciting, and the Pittsburgh Steelers had a surprisingly big role in that excitement. From the trade of Martavis Bryant to the Oakland Raiders for a third-round draft pick to Ryan Shazier walking out to the podium to announce the selection of safety Terrell Edmunds, it was quite a day.
The Cleveland Browns also had a big day, of course, surprisingly not making any trades in the process. The Baltimore Ravens? Well you knew Ozzie Newsome was going to finesse things around during his final season as the team’s general manager.
He traded three times on the day, moving back twice, ultimately from 16 to 25, where he used the selection to draft tight end Hayden Hurst. I saw many joke that he would still have Joe Flacco throwing to him.
Well, maybe for now, but perhaps not for long. Baltimore traded back up in to the first round with the Philadelphia Eagles at 32 to select quarterback Lamar Jackson, the fifth quarterback taken in the round, which was the most since 1999.
As has been pointed out, the Ravens’ offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, also worked with Michael Vick, which should serve as a decent platform from which to build. Jackson may end up sitting for a year or two, but they obviously would not have drafted him if they did not view him as a starter in the future.
Flacco played the best football of his career by a good margin during the 2012 Super Bowl run, which earned him a new contract on the other side of that, temporarily making him the highest-paid player in the NFL.
His performance as well as his health have eroded since then, and the Ravens have only gone 40-40 as a result over the course of the past five seasons. They only reached the postseason once in that span, though they did win one game—over Pittsburgh.
Baltimore went extremely defense-heavy during the draft last year, which did help them field one of the best defenses in the league, but with an offense that was already in need of an upgrade, the failure to address the skill positions was an eyebrow-raiser.
Since that time, they found their seeming franchise running back in Alex Collins courtesy of his performance last season. They completely revamped their wide receiver room, replacing Mike Wallace, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Campanaro with Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead.
Now they’ve added a big talent at tight end in Hurst, and a new quarterback eventually to throw to him in Jackson. I’ll just say this: it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Ravens fans to call for Jackson to play when Flacco struggles.