Ravens officials have done nothing in the pre-draft process to dismiss speculation they will select a quarterback this week. It just wasn't expected they'd do it with the 16th overall pick.

However, thoughts continue to persist that the Ravens could grab Louisville's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson if he's available at 16.


All along, I've been skeptical that the Ravens would use their first pick on a quarterback. My primary reason for that is because owner Steve Bisciotti, who isn't one to play games through the media, was dismissive of the idea in February. He said then that the Ravens "had bigger fish to fry" and were a ways away from worrying about Joe Flacco's successor.

The other reason was the Ravens have made it clear at every opportunity this offseason they're in win-now mode. This is Ozzie Newsome's final year as general manager. There is pressure on long-time head coach John Harbaugh to win this year after Bisciotti acknowledged he nearly made a coaching change after the team missed the playoffs in 2017 for a third consecutive year.

A quarterback who will likely spend the 2018 season on the bench unless Flacco gets injured doesn't help you win now.

But the more I think about it and talk to people and the more I see plugged-in draft pundits like NFL Network's Mike Mayock link Jackson to the Ravens, the more I believe it. I think there is more to it than the Ravens throwing up a smokescreen in hopes a team that wants Jackson moves in front of them.

There's no certainty he's even available at 16. I still think the Ravens would prefer moving back in the first round and picking up additional draft inventory.

However, think about it from the Ravens' perspective: Flacco is 33 years old. He has a surgically-repaired left knee and a bad back, and he hasn't played well for three years now. The Ravens need to start finding a succession plan.

To get a franchise quarterback, teams either have to stink to get a top-5 pick or they have to sacrifice a year's worth of draft picks to move up and get in position. The Ravens might be able to get that guy at 16 in a draft lacking at lacks elite talent.

Again, this all depends on how the Ravens feel about Jackson as a quarterback. They have to be sold on him as an organization and believe he'll be able to make the transition into a successful NFL signal caller.

But Bisciotti, who surely is thinking about the big picture, has to be intrigued by adding one of the most electrifying players in the draft. The move would probably excite a fan base that has been discouraged by missing the playoffs and having to watch a lackluster offense.

Jackson would bring a ton of energy to the team and lead the team on a new offensive direction when the organization decides it's his time. For those who believe the Ravens' product has gone stale, Jackson would answer that complaint.

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