The gradual improvements made by Lamar Jackson were noticeable during his second year of organized team activities and minicamp practices, but there is still much to do before he will be considered a top quarterback in the NFL.
He’s still inconsistent, but has made strides since his rookie season, when he started the final seven games and completed 99 of 170 passes for 1,201 yards and six touchdowns. Jackson also rushed for 695 yards on 147 carries and scored five touchdowns as the Ravens made the playoffs, losing their first postseason game to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Throughout offseason practices, some of Jackson’s newfound confidence could be seen in his body language as he walked around the training complex and up to the line of scrimmage. He was more comfortable at practices and looked more in control, despite learning a new offense under new offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
The athleticism will always be there.
Jackson isn’t only the fastest quarterback in the league but he might the fastest player, period. Fans only get a glimpse of what he can do on Sunday afternoons, but the Ravens could make a highlight package just of the runs he makes in practices.
When he gets to the corner and can square up his shoulder pads at the line of scrimmage, he is gone. Bye. But we already knew Jackson could run.
As a passer, he is throwing the ball better. It is coming out of his hand cleaner because of a better release. There are fewer wobbling passes compared with a year ago, when his long ball had as much hang time as a punt by Sam Koch.
In two of three practices during minicamp last week, Jackson was impressive inside the red zone. He was hot on the last day, drilling pass after pass inside tight windows, especially to tight end Mark Andrews.
Throughout minicamp, Jackson played well in most individual drills, but that didn’t always transfer over to team periods. There were times when he got pressured and reverted to throwing sidearm or off his back foot.
If he completed a pass that way, Jackson would try it again, even though his next two passes would fall short of receivers to the dirt. It would take him a while before he got back to normal.
He still struggles with consistency. And if he’s inconsistent in practice, he will be in games. Unfortunately, those types of mistakes in a series or two could be costly.
One of the best things about Jackson is he wants to be great. His attitude is positive and is reflected in his work ethic, as far as putting in the training and practice time. He also spent some time this offseason trying to polish up his image and working hard to become the face of the Ravens.
At this point, it’s unclear if Jackson will ever become a top quarterback in this league, but he is working extremely hard. The desire to succeed is great, and that’s all you can ask.