Draft Analyst Predicts Ravens Replace Lamar Jackson With Top 10 Pick

Ravens QB Lamar Jackson

Getty Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is being projected to land in the NFC South in a blockbuster trade.

Even knowing that the Baltimore Ravens would place the franchise tag on two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Lamar Jackson ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline on March 7, 2023, NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein predicted that the team would move on in his latest mock draft.

He proposed that they would send the former unanimous league MVP out of the AFC altogether by trading him to the Atlanta Falcons in a package that would include the No. overall pick in this year’s draft that they’d use to take their next franchise quarterback in Kentucky’s Will Levis.

“I like to work through various scenarios with my mock drafts,” Zierlein wrote. “In this hypothetical, the Ravens deal Lamar Jackson to the Falcons in exchange for a draft haul that includes this No. 8 overall pick, which Baltimore uses to select the strong-armed Kentucky gunslinger.”

The former Wildcats standout signal-caller showcased his huge cannon of an arm during his throwing sessions at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. His velocity and accuracy on throws down the field were especially impressive as unleashed one beautiful deep bomb after another.

In his full overview of Levis as a prospect Zierlein described him as “one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in the draft”. At 6-foot-4 and 229 pounds with rare athletic traits and an incredibly strong arm, he has drawn comparisons to the Buffalo Bills‘ Josh Allen but Zierlein believes “there are warts in his game that might not be easily corrected”.

He threw for 2,826 passing yards and 24 touchdowns to 13 interceptions in 2021 as a junior and 2,405 yards and 19 touchdowns to 10 interceptions as a senior in 2022 per Sports Reference. An ankle injury he suffered and played through in his final collegiate season prevented him from unleashing his full potential as a dual threat but he possesses the mobility to run past and through defenders on scrambles and designed runs.

Conflicting Reports of Interest From Atlanta & Other QB-Needy Teams

Leading up to the franchise tag designation deadline, several teams were rumored to have been interested in pursuing a trade for Jackson if were to be assigned the exclusive or nonexclusive designation. Hours prior to the announcement that they would be using the tag on the All-Pro signal caller, the Heavy’s own Matt Lombardo reported that talks between the Ravens and Falcons as it pertains to moving Jackson “intensified” at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine this past week.

However, in almost the immediate aftermath of Jackson receiving the tag ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported that the Falcons “will not be pursuing” the electrifying 26-year-old dual-threat entering his prime despite being tabbed as an ideal landing spot for him and perfect fit in head coach Arthur Smith’s offensive system.

The head-scratching reports of quarterback-needy teams following suit didn’t stop there.

Joe Person of The Athletic reported that the Carolina Panthers “are not expected to be in the Jackson market” despite their only current options at quarterback consisting of veteran PJ Walker who went 2-3 as a starter last year and 2022 third-round pick, Matt Coral, who missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury.

Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Las Vegas Raiders are “very unlikely” to be “involved” in the Jackson sweepstakes after releasing Derek Carr this offseason and are rumored to want Jarrett Stidham to return despite having just 2 career starts and no career wins under his belt in four years in the league.

Russini refuted that claim by reporting that a team source informed her that they “haven’t eliminated any QB options — including Lamar Jackson”.

ESPN’s Kimberley Martin reported that even though the Washington Commanders have a glaring need at the position and Jackson staying in the DMV “makes sense” as it does with the Falcons, they are “not likely to pursue Jackson” either. Unlike the other aforementioned teams, the Commanders don’t have a top 10 pick and will open the new league year with 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell as their QB1 per head coach Ron Rivera.

ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that the Miami Dolphins “will not be pursuing Lamar Jackson or any starting [quarterbacks] this offseason” per multiple team sources, one of which even said that current starter Tua Tagovailoa who suffered several concussions and missed four games, as a result, is a “perfect fit” for head coach Mike McDaniels’ system.

Current and former players around the league have been absolutely flabbergasted by the outward and bold detestation of entertaining the idea of pursuing Jackson either via trade to an offer sheet.

Ravens Stick & Pick in Latest Mock from ESPN Draft Analyst

While Zierlein predicted that the team will move on from Jackson and find his replacement in the top 10 of this year’s draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay believes that DeCosta and Co. will stay put and get him another weapon in the passing game by taking former Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba in his latest mock draft.

“When your WR room records a league-low 1,517 receiving yards and 29th-ranked seven TD catches, and you’re also trying to appeal to your unsigned franchise quarterback, you have to take a close look at the receivers in the draft class,” McShay wrote. “Teams got that on Saturday in Indianapolis, and Smith-Njigba was a standout. We hadn’t seen him on the field since his 2022 season ended in October after three games, thanks to a hamstring injury, but he didn’t appear hampered by it during the combine workouts. He showcased his precise route running, soft hands, and ability to accelerate upfield.”

“Smith-Njigba might have missed most of 2022, but he did have 1,606 receiving yards in 2021 — more than all of the Ravens’ receivers combined for last season. Now I’m fired up to see JSN run at the Ohio State pro day on March 22,” McShay wrote.

Another prominent draft pundit that believes the team will stay where they are and take a receiver in their post-combine mock draft is The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. He has Smith-Njigba coming off the board two picks ahead of the Ravens at No. 20 to the Seattle Seahawks but predicted that they’d pivot and select former Boston College dynamic offensive weapon, Zay Flowers.

“Flowers is a smaller target (5-9, 182), which isn’t ideal, but he is a savvy and sudden competitor with the route pacing to create space for his quarterback,” Brugler wrote.