Ravens’ Lamar Jackson Among Top QBs Under 25

Ravens Lamar Jackson

Getty Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson celebrates a touchdown against the Houston Texans in 2019.

The Answer is:

The Baltimore Ravens have the NFL’s top young quarterback, according to ESPN and Pro Football Focus, who listed Lamar Jackson as their number-one signal caller under 25 years old on Friday.

Jackson’s ranking shouldn’t be too surprising; after all, he’s the only active player under 25 to be named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. His 2019 MVP came when he was just 23 years old, the youngest age of any winner since Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer Jim Brown in 1957.

But Jackson has been consistently doubted in his career, with some going so far as to suggest that defenses would “figure him out” this season. He’s proven that particular idea wrong this season, averaging a career-high 277.6 passing yards per game this year.

Whether it be out-dueling Patrick Mahomes or overcoming a 19-point deficit in the second half, Jackson has disproven multiple narratives about his perceived deficiencies this season.

Backing Jackson’s Ranking

Seth Galina of Pro Football Focus argued in favor of Jackson as the league’s best young quarterback, writing:

But his improvements in throwing the football are what locks down his number-one spot on this list.

Galina continues:

Most importantly, he is a much better passer than he gets credit for. After all, a quarterback doesn’t win the MVP award without being a real passing threat. And he has been even better this season, as his accuracy rate within the 10-to-19-yard range went from 42.7% in 2019 to 51.2% in 2021.

The Ravens worked hard to improve Jackson’s targets this offseason, and they’re already reaping the benefits. Veteran Sammy Watkins and rookie Rashod Bateman have combined for seven excellent starts in Baltimore this season, taking some of the burden off of the Ravens’ run-heavy offense.

That has been especially valuable in a season riddled with injuries in the backfield and along the offensive line.

Stephen A. Smith Prefers Burrow to Jackson

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow landed at fourth on Galina’s list, behind Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals and Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith still argued that he’d rather have Burrow instead of Jackson on Monday’s episode of “First Take,” citing accuracy concerns about Jackson’s arm.

“Consistently, watching them throw the football, Joe Burrow just appears to be on another level,” Smith said.

His comments clearly agitated former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark, who noted that Jackson is younger than Burrow despite being in the NFL for twice as long.

The 42-year-old Clark, who retired in 2015, pointed out how injuries have forced Jackson to shoulder a massive load this season, and he has risen to the occasion.

“Right now, all of his running backs are my age!” exclaimed Clark, who added that Jackson is responsible for almost all of the Ravens’ offensive yards.

That’s nothing new for Jackson, which is why Clark thinks some of his achievements are being overlooked.

“Lamar Jackson is playing at such a high level right now. I think we are ignoring it because we’ve seen it before,” Clark said.