Twenty-five picks before the Baltimore Ravens drafted Lamar Jackson to conclude the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills also found their franchise quarterback with the No. 7 overall selection in Josh Allen.
Fast forward three years and Jackson's Ravens are set to travel to Buffalo this Saturday to face Allen and the Bills for a spot in the AFC Conference Championship.
As Baltimore gets set to prepare for the Bills, head coach John Harbaugh was asked what his thoughts were on Allen during the 2018 pre-draft process. Naturally, Harbaugh gave a glowing review of Buffalo's signal-caller, saying the Ravens "really liked" the Wyoming product.
"I watched him a lot, actually," Harbaugh said. "He’s a guy that most of us here really, really liked. Just the arm talent, the ability, the athleticism and the strength. He’s just a big, strong guy...So, yes – we did look at him, and we really liked him."
Coming from Wyoming -- a non-Power Five program -- Allen's path to becoming a top draft pick wasn't the typical road traveled. That was something that stood out to Harbaugh when evaluating the quarterback during the pre-draft process -- and in a positive way.
"You heard about his story; I really liked his story and what he overcame to get to where he was at," Harbaugh said. "He kind of came up the hard road and the underestimated road. I always kind of like those kinds of guys, for sure."
Allen's first two years in Buffalo were full of ups and downs. But this season, Allen took a major leap, emerging as a possible MVP candidate. The Buffalo passer finished the regular season throwing for over 4,500 yards and 37 touchdowns, both top-five finishes among all quarterbacks.
Part of Allen's growth had to do with the addition of wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who the Bills traded multiple first-round picks to acquire from the Vikings this past offseason. In his first season with Buffalo, Diggs led the NFL in receptions (127) and receiving yards (1,535), earning first-team All-Pro honors.
As a result, the Bills explosive offensive led them to a 13-3 record, the most wins Buffalo finished a season with since 1991.
Come Saturday, Baltimore will look to spoil Buffalo's outstanding season with a road victory. Regardless of the outcome, don't expect Harbaugh's respect for Allen to diminish.
"I just think he’s a great guy," Harbaugh said. "He’s just a great guy. [He’s] a great, young man. [He’s] a tough competitor, man. This guy is a real competitor."