OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens made the surprising move to trade back into the first round and select Lamar Jackson with the 32nd overall pick Thursday night, adding an exciting playmaker to one of the NFL's worst offenses and providing some intrigue to the quarterback position.
Ravens officials insisted Joe Flacco remains their starter and cautioned anyone from jumping to conclusions that Jackson would soon replace the Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
"[Jackson's] a great quarterback. But Joe Flacco is our quarterback," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "That's the thing we got to remember. Lamar is going to have a great chance to develop. When you get to this stage in a quarterback's career, you've seen done in New England and you've seen done in a lot of places. This doesn't really change things in a sense that we're going to go with Joe and he's going to roll."
Harbaugh made it clear that the Ravens don't see the speedy Jackson as a hybrid player.
"The big thing is he's a quarterback. That's the first thing to remember," Harbaugh said. "He's a quarterback through and through. He's a playmaker. We do some analytics, and when the ball is in his hands, there hasn't been a better playmaker really in the last few years coming out."
Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome called it "masterful" how the Ravens were able to trade down twice to get tight end Hayden Hurst and then move back into the first round for Jackson. Baltimore traded its picks in the second and fourth rounds as well as its 2019 second-round pick to Philadelphia for the No. 32 overall pick and the Eagles' fourth-rounder.
After falling to the bottom of the first round, Jackson was asked if he had a chip on his shoulder. He didn't let the reporter finish the question.
"Absolutely," Jackson said. "There is a chip on my shoulder. Both shoulders. I'm not mad. It's just motivation."
Flacco, 33, has struggled since winning the Super Bowl six seasons ago, throwing 98 touchdowns and 74 interceptions. His passer rating of 82.1 ranks No. 36 in the NFL over that span.
This could potentially be Flacco's final season in Baltimore. The Ravens can create $18.5 million in cap space in 2019 by designating him as a post-June 1 cut.
"You can't make a lot of assumptions like that," Harbaugh said. "The Patriots drafted a quarterback and traded him. You take it one year at a time in this league. Predict the future and say what's going to happen down the road, nobody knows.
"We have a great quarterback in Joe Flacco. There's no doubt about it. So you want to put as many good football players on your football team as you possibly can. If you get a chance to get a talent like this, I don't think you can pass it up. It doesn't say anything other than we got better as a football team."
Ravens' head coach John Harbaugh is very positive on Baltimore's outlook at the QB position.
Newsome said Flacco wasn't told before the draft that the team could select a quarterback in the first round. Harbaugh did reach out to Flacco after Baltimore drafted Jackson, which just happened to occur on the 10-year anniversary of Flacco getting selected in the first round.
Flacco shouldn't have been surprised. It was 10 days ago when Flacco told reporters he wasn't concerned if the Ravens drafted a quarterback, possibly in the first round.
"It is what it is. It's a business," Flacco said on April 17 at the start of Baltimore's offseason workouts. "Eventually, at some point, that's going to have to happen. It's not really for me to worry about."
Drafting a quarterback in the first round goes against Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti's comments in February. Asked if it was time to start looking at life without Flacco, Bisciotti said, "We've got bigger fish to fry."
Ravens officials later hinted that quarterback could be in the draft plans. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta said earlier this month the team would pick a quarterback if there's one "really too good to pass up," and Newsome suggested the Ravens could "surprise" in the first round.
"We think he's a unique talent," DeCosta said.
Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, became the the only player in FBS history to rush for at least 1,500 yards and pass for at least 3,500 yards in a season. And Jackson accomplished this feat twice (in 2016 and 2017).
He went 22-11 as a starting quarterback at Louisville and was a touchdown machine. He reached the end zone 119 times (a school record), running for 50 and throwing for 69.
The biggest concern is his accuracy. He completed 57 percent of his throws for his career.
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