Five things to know about Ravens first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson

Lamar Jackson is unique in many ways — in how he runs (fast), in how he passes (well enough to win a Heisman Trophy), in how he’s created some quarterback intrigue in Baltimore (good luck with that, Joe Flacco).

But before any Ravens fans get to wondering just how soon the No. 32 overall pick will bring a Super Bowl to his new team, here’s what you need to know about the man behind the potentially franchise-altering quarterback.

1. His Heisman Trophy-winning season was one for the ages.

Jackson won Louisville's first Heisman Trophy after putting together one of the most statistically impressive seasons in the award’s history. Among some of his mind-blowing 2016 stats:

  • He became the youngest player ever to win the Heisman, at just 19 years, 337 days — five days younger than the previous youngest winner, Florida State’s Jameis Winston.
  • He accumulated 4,928 yards of total offense, second in Heisman history, behind Brigham Young’s Ty Detmer's 5,022 in 1990.
  • His 51 combined touchdowns tied him with Florida’s Tim Tebow for third most by a Heisman winner.
  • He was the first player to win the Heisman with at least 30 touchdown passes and at least 21 rushing touchdowns.
  • His 1,538 rushing yards were the most ever by a Heisman-winning quarterback.

2. He’s not open to switching positions.

In February, Hall of Fame executive and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian said that he thought Jackson’s talents would be best served at wide receiver. He compared Jackson to Terrelle Pryor, who entered the NFL in 2011 as an unpolished dual-threat quarterback before converting to wide receiver in 2015 and catching on with a number of NFL teams.

At the NFL scouting combine not long after, Jackson made his intentions clear.

“Whoever likes me at quarterback, that’s where I’m going,” he said. “That’s strictly my position.”

3. He doesn’t have an official 40-yard time, but it’s probably really fast.

In an effort to dispel the notion that he was simply an athlete playing quarterback, Jackson removed himself from the testing of his greatest athletic trait: his speed.

Jackson decided not to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine and again at Louisville’s pro day. He took part in positional drills instead.

"I didn't want to show it out here, they've been talking about receiver and stuff like that, so I didn't feel I should do it," Jackson said at the combine. "At first I was going to run, as a quarterback, but then they said wide receiver, and I had to let them know I was just going to throw."

We have an idea of just how fast Jackson is, though. During spring football last year, Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino tweeted that his quarterback had clocked an unofficial 4.34-second 40, behind only fellow future first-round draft pick Jaire Alexander (4.32 seconds).

4. He doesn’t have an agent.

Jackson broke from convention by not signing an agent to help guide him through the predraft process, instead relying on his mother, Felicia Jones, to serve as his manager.

While Jackson reportedly will hire a lawyer to look over his rookie contract, his decision to essentially represent himself could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“It’s not that [his mother is] trying to — in my opinion — control him,” Lamar Thomas, who recruited Jackson to Louisville, told Sports Illustrated. “They’ve been through a lot together. For them to want to stay together and try to do this thing together, that’s the way they’ve always been. They’d just rather the play do the talking.”

5. He’s just the 19th black quarterback taken in the first round.

Four quarterbacks were taken before Jackson in the first round Thursday, all of them bound for a league where the majority of signal-callers are, like themselves, white.

Jackson, meanwhile, is just the 19th African-American quarterback taken in the first round in draft history. Last year, there were two selected: the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson and the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes II.

Former NFL quarterback and current Washington Redskins executive Doug Williams told The Undefeated that many black quarterbacks over the years have “had a whole lot of ability and could have [even] been first-round guys, but they didn’t get the opportunity.”

“You can’t do it without the chance to prove yourself. But if you go there [in the first round], you know a whole lot will be on you,” he added. “That’s just the way it is.”

jshaffer@baltsun.com

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