Ravens

Quick Links

Jalen Hurts' defiant NFL Combine comments mirror Lamar Jackson's

Jalen Hurts' defiant NFL Combine comments mirror Lamar Jackson's

It seems kind of laughable now, doesn’t it?

In 2018, questions about Lamar Jackson’s future position were unavoidable. His speed and elusiveness, combined with a spotty track record when it came to accuracy, had teams salivating about his potential at a number of skill positions in the NFL -- quarterback not included.

Now, coming off a unanimous MVP campaign, during which he rewrote record books and established himself as one of the young faces of the next generation of quarterbacks, it’s strange to look back on a time when the majority of football pundits thought his future was at wide receiver or running back.

Jackson’s undeniable success has not only taken the NFL by storm, it’s paved the way for future athletic college quarterbacks to stick at the position.

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, formerly of Alabama and one of the top players in the country, is receiving the same questions at this year’s NFL Combine that Jackson fielded at his. Namely, is he willing to switch positions?

His answer mirrors Jackson’s. He’s a quarterback only, and he has no interest in switching positions to appease an organization with less foresight than what the Ravens had with Jackson.

While Hurts didn’t mention Jackson by name in his reasoning, it’s hard not to draw parallels. Jackson’s 2019 season was one for the history books, and his influence will continue to trickle down to future generations.

Players like Jackson and Hurts haven’t always had the same opportunities to succeed -- or, more importantly, fail -- as other, more “traditional” quarterbacks have had in the course of NFL history. But organizations that are creative and willing to tailor their offensive schemes to the attributes of their quarterbacks are taking advantage of a largely backward-minded league.

Teams that look at Hurts and see a unique skillset full of things he can do, rather than what he can’t, are the way of the future. 

Hurts himself, along with a generation of fellow athletic quarterbacks entering the league over the next few seasons, are betting on this future when they demand to be evaluated as quarterbacks only.

They may have found a way to push through on their own. But Jackson’s incredible year has opened up the path in a major way, making it that much easier for the next crop of unique, talented quarterbacks to shine.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

How Ravens will fill 'irreplaceable' Marshal Yanda's right guard position

How Ravens will fill 'irreplaceable' Marshal Yanda's right guard position

The Ravens have a few holes throughout the roster, but perhaps none of them carry as much significance as the right guard position. 

With Marshal Yanda’s retirement earlier in the offseason, the Ravens have an open spot at right guard for the first time in over a decade. While there are a few options to replace the future Hall of Famer, none of them carry Yanda’s presence. 

“The thinking is it’s going to be really hard,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I think he’s irreplaceable, bottom line. You can’t say that you’re going to plug in another Marshal Yanda. Probably the same thing applied to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. To me, he’s in that category.”

Baltimore’s options along the interior offensive line are limited, as center Matt Skura is recovering from a significant knee injury — leaving the starting interior line, from left to right, as Bradley Bozeman, Patrick Mekari and Ben Powers. 

Mekari has five starts in his career; Powers has played in just one game. 

The team also released James Hurst, who was a versatile offensive lineman who could play both tackle and guard. Now, the Ravens have a lack of depth along the starting offensive line. 

Now, they’ll turn their focus to adding talent to the interior offensive line — both talent that can start and provide immediate depth.

“There are some tackles that we think can play inside, play guard,” general manager Eric DeCosta said. “There are some really good guards, some centers in this draft. I think we’ve shown in the past that we can find guys in the second, third, fourth, fifth rounds, offensive linemen who can come in and play.”

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE RAVENS TALK PODCAST

A few early options in the draft figure to be Lloyd Cushenberry III out of LSU, Cesar Ruiz of Michigan and Nick Harris of Washington. 

Cushenberry and Ruiz started most of their careers at center, but Harris spent time at guard as well and could provide some much-needed versatility to a position that has some legitimate concerns. 

“We’ve got to make sure that we do a great job of making sure the interior offensive line is all set,” Harbaugh said. “How you do it, you do it the old way. We’ve got to look at all the players, try to find the best fits. I don’t think we necessarily have to concern ourselves with what the rest of the league is looking for in the offensive line, or any other position really, but just what we’re looking for and the type of player we want.”

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

How Eric DeCosta, staff plan to build out the Ravens’ draft board during quarantine

How Eric DeCosta, staff plan to build out the Ravens’ draft board during quarantine

When the NFL Draft happens on April 23, the best technology available will be at the Ravens’ staff’s fingertips. 

They’ll also have to conduct the draft more like what was conducted in the 1980s as compared to present day. 

With league-wide shutdowns of team facilities, all NFL teams will have to conduct their own drafts with each individual front office member in their homes. In a way, that means it’s business as usual for the Ravens. 

“I don’t think it’s really going to be that much different than we’ve been accustomed to,” general manager Eric DeCosta said. “We had the opportunity to meet with so many different players at the Senior Bowl and the East-West combine, we really prepared to be the best we can be. The thing we come back to, it’s been this way ever since I know I got into the league, it’s really about the tape, how the guy plays.”

The Ravens will have to navigate the draft, though, without a traditional war room for the staff to congregate in. There, they’ll have to make draft choices and trades remotely.

“We did a lot of work in person in February and also in December to get ready for these meetings,” DeCosta said. “There are some challenges associated, nothing major, but we’re excited for the opportunity and we think it’s going to work out well for us.”

The draft board this year, DeCosta said, will have 185 players that they consider to be “draftable” players for the Ravens. Of that number, 25 of which are wide receivers. He’ll have to make those selections over Zoom, the video-conferencing service. 

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE RAVENS TALK PODCAST

Coach John Harbaugh’s mind isn’t exactly at ease over Zoom, either. 

“Every time I read something in The Wall Street Journal or New York Times that talks about how messed up Zoom is or some of these other deals that came out this morning, I immediately text it to our IT people,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve got some real concerns about that, and hopefully we’ll be okay. I really wouldn’t want the opposing coaches to have our playbook or our draft meetings.”

The draft board and meetings that Harbaugh would like to keep internally will assuredly discuss the bevy of wide receivers available in this year’s class. Three first-round locks appear to be two Alabama receivers, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, and Ceedee Lamb of Oklahoma. 

Denzel Mims, Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins and Jalen Reagor all could find themselves picked in the first 32 selections, too.

“There’s a lot of really good players, obviously the receivers class is prolific by many people’s standards," DeCosta said. "There’s probably 25 draft-able wideouts in this draft. Very very talented running backs, offensive linemen, tight ends. We’re going to look at the board, we’re going to assess the strengths and weaknesses at every position when we’re on the clock.”

Baltimore has nine picks in the draft, including seven in the first four rounds. While the opportunity of trading up, or down, exists, DeCosta wasn’t shy about what those picks could mean for the Ravens in the 2020 season. 

“I think with the influx of juniors every year, we see that drafts tend to be stronger in the last five-to-seven years than they have been,” DeCosta said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys this year we feel like will have a really good opportunity with our first seven picks to really get some outstanding football players that can come in immediately and pay dividends for us.”

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: