There is no disputing that the NFL has become a quarterback driven league. There’s also no disputing that the 2018 QB class is littered with stars, big names and even some depth on night two, etc. of the draft.
However, there was a possible “watershed moment” in Jacksonville last night involving the short and long term future of the most critical position on an offense, quarterback. And the Jaguars, as several teams did before them, looked right at Louisville QB Lamar Jackson still sitting there late in the first round,….and passed.
They instead went with a safer pick at #29 of Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan. He’s a big, athletic and a regional favorite, because he played his college ball just down I-75 in Gainesville.
But, don’t mistake this: he’s not a game changing impact player.
Not like what Jackson potentially will be for his new team, the Ravens.
Baltimore, was aggressive on Thursday night, trading down, while on the clock, not once, but twice in the opening round. And in picking up more selections, the Ravens and GM Ozzie Newsome were able to easily able to bounce back into the final pick of round one to get their apparent QB of the future.
We wrote extensively about Lamar Jackson leading up to the draft, about his dual threat capabilities and how it might or might not translate at the next level. He has tremendous “upside,” and the fact that he last until the 32nd pick Thursday night means it was much less risky for anyone to take him.
Here’s what Baltimore understood. Joe Flacco is a known commodity. He’s obviously had good success and was great in the 2012 playoffs. However, that was six seasons ago. He is definitely limited post knee surgery last off season, in some regards, too. And, the Ravens don’t owe him any guaranteed money for 2019.
Now let’s relate this to the Jaguars. Same as Flacco, you know what you have in Blake Bortles. And, as we wrote at the time, you also have a large short term, but not long term, financial commitment to him on the contract extension they gave him in January. So, similarly, if Bortles struggles or regresses in 2018, you can decide to move on with someone else and it doesn’t cost you dearly on the cap.
Only, the Jaguars didn’t take that someone last night.
Keep in mind by grabbing Jackson in the first round, under the CBA negotiating rules for rookies, the Ravens now hold the option on the fifth year of Jackson’s rookie deal. That means, just like Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota recently this off season, a team can pick up the fifth year option before the fourth season starts, if warranted.
Big advantage for the clubs in getting to “wait and see” for three years, and then decide.
Look. Jacksonville might take a QB in the second or the third round Friday night, and maybe that player could be groomed as the future. But, as we just wrote, that’s a four year deal only, now. And that player isn’t going to be as talented as Lamar Jackson.
Jackson is explosive and brings people out of their seats at times. He’s someone you can build around and market to the fans, now and/or down the road. Baltimore now gets to do that.
The Jags don’t have that with the QB position, currently.
And, Thursday night, they looked right at a discounted cost, former Heisman winning, big play QB, who fell right to them without having to trade up.
And? They didn’t take him.
We don’t think so. But, history over the next 2-3 years will be the final judge.
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