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Here's why MVP Lamar Jackson is only No. 5 in Chris Simms' QB rankings

Here's why MVP Lamar Jackson is only No. 5 in Chris Simms' QB rankings

Each year, NBC Sports analyst and former NFL quarterback Chris Simms unveils his list of the Top 40 passers in the NFL. His 2020 rankings have caused some stirs locally, notably his decision to slot Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins at No. 39, below the likes of Mitchell Trubisky.

Simms' placement of Lamar Jackson may also come with some questions.

The Ravens quarterback and 2019 NFL MVP checked in at No. 5 on his list behind Deshaun Watson, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. By all accounts, that is a very good ranking. Last year Jackson was No. 30, and his 25-spot jump was the largest in this year's rankings. However, while Mahomes and Wilson are understandable, it is fair to wonder how the player that was considered the most valuable in all of football sits fifth on any list.

For Simms, the ranking is not a slight to Jackson. The analyst explained on his "Chris Simms Unbuttoned" podcast that he sees Jackson as one of the best in the game. His unique skillset has made him an unstoppable force on the ground, and Simms also sees Jackson as a "natural thrower."

“Awesome, exciting, one of the most explosive players in football," Simms said. 

However, despite his belief that Jackson can throw as well as any other quarterback, Simms hasn't seen it consistently done yet. Though there have been flashes, he's too often seen Jackson place the ball in a spot that slows down a receiver or throw a bullet pass when a lob would have been better. 

“To me, it's just those nuances that are holding back Lamar Jackson," Simms said. "I think they are conquerable, he’s gotten better at it, I’ve seen it already. But I think that’s what keeps him at five for me at this moment.”

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Simms also noted that when evaluating Jackson, he had to go beyond the stats and overall success of the Ravens offense. On paper, 3,127 passing yards and 36 touchdowns look incredible. But the analyst thinks part of it was due to the way Baltimore's offense was run. With so many moving parts and a dominant ground attack, defenses were forced to stack the box, allowing Jackson to have an easier time finding open receivers.

“When you just look like the stats and the machine of which Baltimore was. And of course he took advantage of a lot of plays that were there to be had," Simms said. "You went, ‘well this guy is amazing, this is awesome.’”

“He’s a really good thrower, don’t get me wrong, but his great running ability is setting up some great passing looks sometimes too, to maybe fool us into thinking he’s a little bit better of a thrower than he is," Simms said.

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He used Jackson's two playoff appearances to further explain his point. The Chargers and Titans both limited Baltimore's ability to run the football and then dared Jackson to beat them through the air. In those moments, though some of it was out of his control, Jackson struggled.

That is the main reason Simms doesn't have Jackson higher on his list. To him, the best quarterback is the one that can dominate in all phases of the game and can single-handedly will a team to victory through the air. Simms believes Jackson has the ability to do that, and his success running the football shouldn't be overlooked, but he's not there yet.

“Lamar Jackson I don’t think is quite ready to carry the team with his right arm," Simms said.

When he feels he is, Simms will have no problem moving Jackson up even further in his rankings. 

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Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams looks a bit different entering the 2020 season. He’s also got some teammates that look different, too. 

The Ravens added defensive tackles Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to the front line, meaning Williams will kick inside to nosetackle this season. He’s changed his body composition as a result, and has shaved off some fat and added more muscle.

“I’ve got to eat the greens, eat the vegetables, the broccoli and whatnot,” Williams said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “But, then just working on my body composition, just working on being more — not lighter — but more toned so I can play that nose and keep running the way I do. Those two additions, Wolfe and Calais, I’ve got the twin towers right next to me — those two giants. I don’t see how offenses can come at us, man.”

In order to slim down a little bit the 31-year-old ate with a more watchful eye, as he knew his body would respond accordingly during the season.

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“I’m trying to get my slim-sexy going on — you know what I’m saying?” Williams quipped. “You know, the older you get, the harder it is to get that weight off you, the harder it is to move. You have to think about the joints and all the double-teams you’re taking up and all that stuff. So, when you come in a little bit lighter, it just relieves all that pain a lot of that — I guess — nagging stuff you have to worry about early on.”

Williams had 34 tackles last season and one sack, but is hopeful his move back to the nosetackle spot after the additions of Campbell, Wolfe and draft choices Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington will create a defensive line capable of wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. 

“Those two dudes are good, and I like what I’ve got,” Williams said. “I like my team. I like the way they look, and the new guys are coming up great. We’ve got a lot of things going for us on the D-line and I’m excited to see it.”

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A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

It’s been a good day for tight ends in the NFL.

To start the day George Kittle became the highest-paid tight end in the league. Shortly after, Travis Kelce signed an extension keeping him in Kansas City for an additional four years. Now it’s hard to talk about NFL tight ends and not mention either Kittle or Kelce’s name as two of the best in the league. It was only fitting that the two get paid on the exact same day.  

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Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million contract extension. Kittle deserves every penny of that deal as he’s racked up 2,945 receiving yards, the most by any tight end in NFL history after three seasons. He’s a do-it-all tight end who has great hands, blocks like a guard, and is a huge asset to the locker room.  

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce agreed to a four-year, $57.25 million extension. Kelce is a huge part of the Chiefs offense and his stats show that he’s one of the best in the league. He’s the only tight end to ever record four straight 1,000 yard seasons and he’s the fastest tight end ever to 425 career catches and 5,500 receiving yards.  

Kittle and Kelce have set the bar high with their play on the field, but they have now also set the bar for the price tag at their position that comes along with it. 

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