Ravens first-round pick Lamar Jackson said he fell in love with the Ravens on his visit. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens first-round draft pick Lamar Jackson is so talented, "he could do a lot of different things" as an athlete, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said at an introductory news conference Friday afternoon. But in Baltimore, Mornhinweg said, the lifelong quarterback will be a Ravens quarterback.
Even as analysts suggested before the draft that the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner might be best served as a wide receiver in the NFL, Jackson's initial visit with Ravens coaches was focused on the finer points of quarterback play. They discussed footwork, his base as a thrower — "all those things we'll work on from Day One," Mornhinweg said.
But Mornhinweg also reiterated what general manager Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh announced Thursday night: that Joe Flacco is still the team's leader on offense.
"As far as the future, we'll see what happens there," Mornhinweg said. "Joe's the quarterback of this football team. Lamar is going to develop all those things, so we'll see what happens."
That Jackson had even ended up with the Ravens was still mind-boggling to the former Louisville star Friday afternoon. When the 32nd pick approached Thursday night, Jackson, in a green Gucci suit, wondered whether his sartorial splendor had been wasted on a long night in the green room.
Then he was reminded that a team still might trade up for the Philadelphia Eagles' round-capping pick. Then the Ravens did just that, and the phone rang. "I hesitated at first," he said. "They were like, 'Answer the phone, answer the phone!' "
It was the Ravens.
"I didn't know what was going on," he said. Then came the realization. "Oh, man, it's on. I'm ready."
The validity of that statement will be scrutinized for months and perhaps years to come. For all his generational open-field abilities as a dual-threat quarterback, Jackson often throws from a narrow base in the pocket. His follow-through is not refined. Neither fundamental flaw will serve him well against the sport's best defenses.
Asked how much time he would need to develop before he's indeed "ready," Jackson was honest.
One day after proclaiming on the NFL Network that he would bring a Super Bowl to the Ravens, Jackson professed respect for the Ravens' starter, saying he would try to learn as much as he could from Flacco.
"Like I said before in other media interviews, if you win the Super Bowl, you're a GOAT to me," Jackson said, using the common shorthand for "greatest of all time."
Mornhinweg said it was essential that the Ravens have a plan in place for Jackson's development, "because every second of every day will be important."
Added quarterbacks coach James Urban: "We're focused on Lamar playing the quarterback position, and there's a way that we go about that, and it's systematic. Develop the skills to play that position at a very high level in the National Football League, and that's the intent. That's the first thing that we start with, and then the future takes care of the future."