Louisville's Lamar Jackson was the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, 2016 ACC Player of the Year and 2017 ACC Player of the Year, and the Baltimore Ravens didn't miss their opportunity to land him at the end of the first round Thursday during the 2018 NFL draft.
Baltimore traded into the No. 32 overall pick, the final one in the first round, and selected Jackson.
Thoughts immediately turn toward Joe Flacco considering he is the team's established signal-caller, and head coach John Harbaugh stressed "Joe Flacco's our quarterback" when discussing the situation. However, he also noted Jackson is "a quarterback through and through" and pointed to the opportunity he will have to develop and potentially take over down the road:
Jackson's statistics at the collegiate level jump out, as he won his Heisman with 3,543 passing yards, 1,571 rushing yards, 30 touchdowns through the air and 21 touchdowns on the ground. He followed up with equally as impressive numbers in 2017, racking up 3,660 passing yards, 1,601 rushing yards, 27 passing touchdowns and 18 rushing touchdowns.
He can hurt opposing defenses with his arm but is also quick enough to turn a broken play into a game-changing run. His mobility is important beyond his ability to pick up yardage with his legs because he can keep passing plays alive by evading sacks in the pocket and resetting his feet before unleashing a deep ball with the flick of his wrist.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranked him as the fifth-best quarterback in the draft behind Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold, who were all top-10 picks Thursday. Miller highlighted Jackson's "game-changing athleticism and playmaking skills" when discussing his prospects in the pros.
With an established quarterback in place but also needing a long-term plan at the position, Baltimore is an ideal landing spot.
Flacco is 33 years old and hasn't impressed of late. He tallied just 18 touchdown passes to 13 interceptions in 2017 and has double-digit pick totals every year of his career, including 22 in 2013.
Jackson gives the Ravens an insurance policy should Flacco suffer an injury but also provides a glimpse of their future after the veteran is no longer the assumed starter. Look for the Louisville product to take advantage of a development opportunity under a Super Bowl champion while also eventually challenging to take the reins later in his career.