Ravens fans have had a lot to digest over the past three years, but those who showed up at the team's DraftFest seem ready to look to the future.
General manager Ozzie Newsome must have sensed that as he maneuvered through the first round to position himself for the dramatic final pick that brought the Ravens Heisman Trophy quarterback Lamar Jackson.
"I think Ozzie made some great moves to set us up for the future," said Tony Zaccaria of White Marsh. "I was very excited to see the Ravens traded back into the first round and made that possible."
Joe Flacco still hasn’t revealed how he feels about the Ravens using their second first-round draft pick Thursday night to bring in a young quarterback who figures to be groomed as his eventual replacement. He only spoke to fans at the Ravens' DraftFest event.
Newsome flipped the script from last year, when he used his first four picks to bolster the defense. This year, he used the first four on offensive players. That concerned Brad Luby fo Hampden.
"We're still going to have to shore up the end of the games on defense," Luby said, "but on offense you have to have playmakers nowadays. We filled our two biggest needs on offense with the early picks, so we'll see."
Mark Scott and his son, Austin, drove down from Red Lion, Pa., to enjoy a sunny afternoon at the Inner Harbor that included on-stage interviews with Ravens players, fan forums and free autograph sessions with the team's stars of the past and present. Their reaction to the early rounds of the draft were mixed.
"I would have liked a receiver," Mark said, "but I guess they had a hole they wanted to fill, which was at tight end, so I think they managed to drop down twice in day one to get the guy they wanted anyway and move up to later picks. I guess that was a smart play. Austin was dying for us to get Lamar Jackson, so that surprise at the end was a gift for him."
Austin weighed in on whether the signing of veteran quarterback Robert Griffin III and the addition of Jackson will create an awkward situation during organized team activities and training camp.
"No, I think it's more motivation for the guys that are already there," he said, "whether it be Flacco, [Josh] Woodrum, RGIII, anyone that's in camp. It lights a fire under and I'm hoping we get more production from our quarterbacks this year."
"You know what, it doesn't really matter," Esmer said. "I think Joe knows his time's almost up here. His contract is going to be too damn big. That's why they drafted the kid. The way to win in the NFL is to have a young quarterback."
The Ravens have to hope the elephant in the room throughout the 2017 season ceases to be a major problem impacting the team's popularity this year. The fan discontent that was so evident during and after the national anthem controversy was not in evidence at the Inner Harbor on Saturday.
Several fans said they were ready to put it behind them.
"I think so," Esmer said. "I personally didn't have a problem with the kneeling or anything like that. I think everybody has a right to an opinion and every employer has the right to say, 'You're my employee. You can't do that.' "
"Winning does cure everything," Luby said. "You make the playoffs … you make a run, I think people get over it."