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Ravens officially sign 2018 third-round picks Brown, Andrews

Posted on 17 May 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens officially signed 2018 third-round picks Orlando Brown Jr. and Mark Andrews to four-year contracts on Thursday.

Brown, the 83rd overall pick of last month’s draft, is expected to compete with veteran James Hurst for the starting right tackle job this summer. The 22-year-old was projected by some to be a first-round talent before a poor scouting combine performance hurt his stock, allowing the Ravens to grab him in the third round.

“Everybody knows I’m slow. I’m not the fastest guy — half of you could probably beat me running, honestly,” said Brown, the son of late former Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown. “That’s something that I continue to work on and I’m going to have to continue to work on during my career. My weight-room numbers aren’t the best, but football IQ — I’ve been around the game. My dad forced me to learn it.”

Andrews was selected with the 86th overall pick and is expected to compete for playing time in sub packages. Assistant general manager Eric DeCosta has compared him to former Raven Dennis Pitta, which could be good news for quarterback Joe Flacco and his affinity for pass-catching tight ends.

The Oklahoma product isn’t known for his blocking ability, but he has a chance to contribute immediately as a bigger slot option in sub packages.

“I haven’t got a lot of reps at doing [blocking] in college, but that’s something I’m going to learn,” Andrews said. “I think I’m going to thrive at it one day. I want to be a complete receiver, and one day I will be.”

The two signings leave first-round tight end Hayden Hurst and first-round quarterback Lamar Jackson as the only unsigned members of Baltimore’s 2018 draft class.

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Ravens to announce concession price reductions at M&T Bank Stadium

Posted on 15 May 2018 by Luke Jones

Continuing their efforts to reconnect with a disenchanted fan base, the Ravens will lower concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of the 2018 season.

Team president Dick Cass will discuss the details of the changes during a Thursday press conference at the stadium. The move follows owner Steve Bisciotti’s suggestion that the Ravens could follow in the footsteps of the Atlanta Falcons, who lowered food and drink prices by 50 percent and still saw fans spend more money on concessions in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium last year.

One of the obstacles to such a move was the organization’s contract with Aramark, the concessions vendor at M&T Bank Stadium.

“It’s something I would really like to take a hard look at, and at least, come up with select items that we can do,” said Bisciotti in early February. “I can’t make Aramark do that with me, but I can make them go along as long as it’s my share of the profits that I’m waving. I’d like to take a look at that. I think we could probably do that.”

The Ravens have been aggressive responding to the increasing number of empty seats at home games last season, putting individual game tickets on sale earlier than ever this year and continuing their $120 million stadium renovations project that will include escalators and more elevators being installed. Select fans and sponsors have also been invited to take part in question-and-answer sessions with the team’s brass this offseason.

Much frustration stems from Baltimore missing the playoffs four times in the last five seasons, but a vocal portion of the fan base also took issue with the dozen or so Ravens players who knelt during the national anthem when the team played in London last Sept. 24. The declining attendance last season prompted Cass to write a letter to personal seat license holders in which he acknowledged the protest being a factor in fans staying away from games.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts prior to start of organized team activities

Posted on 15 May 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens set to begin organized team activities in Owings Mills next week, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Ravens won’t be at full strength when they begin organized team activities next week, but OTAs provide the first real look at the 2018 team. Observations will be blown out of proportion, but it’s another welcome checkpoint on the road to the start of the season.

2. Next week will hopefully conclude the ridiculous opening chapter of the Joe Flacco-Lamar Jackson saga in which some have tried to make you believe Flacco has ignored the rookie’s calls and texts, stolen his dog, and even asked Thanos to snap his fingers and make him disappear.

3. The coaching staff should do what it can to utilize Jackson’s explosive athleticism without disrupting the rhythm of the offense or hindering his long-term development. Flacco doesn’t have the rope this time around to balk at the notion of a “high school offense” like he did several years ago.

4. Baltimore returns all but one player — Lardarius Webb — who played a defensive snap last season. That’s a remarkable level of defensive continuity in the era of the salary cap. Now it’s up to new defensive coordinator Wink Martindale to take this group to another level.

5. It’s easy to forget about Tavon Young after he sustained a season-ending knee injury nearly one year ago, but he ranked 30th among qualified cornerbacks in Pro Football Focus’ grading system during his rookie season in 2016. This secondary has so many options.

6. Kenneth Dixon was a quiet winner during draft weekend when the Ravens didn’t select a running back. Baltimore could really use his play-making ability to complement Alex Collins, but Dixon needs to prove he’s healthy and committed to being a professional after his knee injury and two drug suspensions.

7. I’ll buy stock in Martindale utilizing Tony Jefferson more effectively than Dean Pees did, but restructuring his contract is questionable after his underwhelming first season in Baltimore. As others have suggested, this makes you think the extension with C.J. Mosley that would have cleared needed cap space isn’t close.

8. Bradley Bozeman had quite the career at Alabama and could one day develop into a productive player, but this isn’t a diamond in the rough at a small school that was simply overlooked. Suggestions that the sixth-round rookie could be the starting center are premature.

9. I’m curious to see what Nico Siragusa’s level of participation will be this spring after he suffered such a serious knee injury last summer. He would be an interesting name to throw into the center mix if he’s fully recovered, but little has been said about his status.

10. Quincy Adeboyejo was already far from a lock to make the 53-man roster, but the second-year wide receiver underwent surgery on his left leg Tuesday and didn’t exactly comment as though it were something minor. You hate seeing injuries, especially this time of year.

11. With the Ravens not using meaningful draft capital or free-agent dollars on a pass rusher, either Tyus Bowser or Tim Williams needs to take a big step forward in the way Matt Judon did a year ago. You can’t expect Terrell Suggs to continue leading the way forever.

12. A rookie quarterback and a large draft class should benefit from both a longer training camp due to the Hall of Fame Game as well as joint practices with the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis, but John Harbaugh must strike the right balance in keeping players healthy and fresh.

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Ravens sign all eight Day 3 draft picks

Posted on 05 May 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens have wasted little time signing most of their team-record-tying 12 draft picks to four-year contracts.

Baltimore announced agreements with eight selections on Saturday, a list comprised of fourth-round cornerback Anthony Averett, fourth-round linebacker Kenny Young, fourth-round wide receiver Jaleel Scott, fifth-round wide receiver Jordan Lasley, sixth-round safety DeShon Elliott, sixth-round offensive tackle Greg Senat, sixth-round center Bradley Bozeman, and seventh-round defensive end Zach Sieler.

The Ravens must still sign first-round tight end Hayden Hurst, first-round quarterback Lamar Jackson, third-round offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., and third-round tight end Mark Andrews, but those tasks are considered little more than formalities with the structure of the current collective bargaining agreement in place since 2011. As first-round selections, both Hurst and Jackson will carry fifth-year options the Ravens will have the choice to exercise for the 2022 season.

General manager Ozzie Newsome had the entire 2017 draft class signed by May 17 last season.

Doubling up on joint practices

The Ravens hadn’t conducted any practices with other teams since 2015, but they’ll double up in ending that drought this summer.

Asked about his team’s already-announced plan to practice with the Los Angeles Rams for two days ahead of the Aug. 9 preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium, head coach John Harbaugh revealed the Ravens will also practice in Indianapolis ahead of their Aug. 20 contest at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“Both of those coaches called us,” said Harbaugh, referring to Rams head coach Sean McVay and new Colts head coach Frank Reich. “We have the longer training camp this year with our extra preseason game with the Hall of Fame game [on Aug. 2]. The way the training camp laid out, it looked like it would be good for us to create some breaks in the schedule where we could go against somebody else and organize the practices appropriately. We have to do a good job of that.”

The Ravens hosted joint practices with San Francisco in 2014 and practiced against the Eagles in Philadelphia in 2015.

Odds & ends

Nine days after being drafted, Jackson said he hasn’t yet talked to starting quarterback Joe Flacco. … Harbaugh said he was impressed with Jackson’s accuracy and “natural arm talent” during rookie minicamp. … Andrews having Type 1 diabetes wasn’t a consideration in the Ravens’ decision to draft him, according to Harbaugh. … Several players noted the challenge of the temperature rising north of 90 degrees on Friday, but Harbaugh was pleased with the rookies’ conditioning level and noted there were no major or soft-tissue-related injuries during the minicamp.

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Ravens announce rookie free-agent signings, assign jersey numbers

Posted on 04 May 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens holding their rookie minicamp this weekend, a batch of 15 undrafted free agents joined the franchise-record-tying 12 draft selections made last week.

Baltimore announced the following signings on the offensive side of the ball: wide receivers Jaelon Acklin (Western Illinois) and Andre Levrone (Virginia), tight end Nick Keizer (Grand Valley State), offensive linemen Randin Crecelius (Portland State), Justin Evans (South Carolina State), and Alex Thompson (Monmouth), and running backs Gus Edwards (Rutgers), Mark Thompson (Florida), and De’Lance Turner (Alcorn State).

On defense and special teams, the Ravens inked linebackers Alvin Jones (UTEP) and Mason McKenrick (John Carroll), defensive end Christian LaCouture (LSU), defensive back Darious Williams (Alabama Birmingham), long snapper Trent Sieg (Colorado State), and punter Kaare Vedvik (Marshall).

The rookie camp also includes a number of undisclosed tryout players. They primarily serve the purpose of allowing the team to conduct a more functional practice, but the Ravens have also signed select tryout players after past rookie camps.

The Ravens also unveiled the jersey numbers for their 12-man draft class:

TE Hayden Hurst – No. 81
QB Lamar Jackson – No. 8
OT Orlando Brown Jr. – No. 78
TE Mark Andrews – No. 89
CB Anthony Averett – No. 28
LB Kenny Young – No. 40
WR Jaleel Scott – No. 12
WR Jordan Lasley – No. 17
S DeShon Elliott – No. 21
OT Greg Senat – No. 64
C Bradley Bozeman – No. 77
DE Zach Sieler – No. 95

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following 2018 draft

Posted on 03 May 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Ravens now finished with the draft and looking ahead to rookie minicamp this weekend, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. An organization that’s struggled to remain relevant nationally in recent years will have plenty of buzz as the Lamar Jackson watch begins. This will easily be the most interesting spring and preseason the Ravens have had in a long time.

2. Joe Flacco declining to speak to local reporters Saturday was much ado about nothing, but the Ravens created this situation and need to be prepared to handle it. Every national reporter coming through Owings Mills this year will be asking the veteran about the quarterback of the future.

3. I’m already seeing the annual overhype about the receiver competition as the Ravens added three veterans who combined for 87 catches for 1,009 yards last year and can point to Demetrius Williams as their greatest fourth- or fifth-round success story at the position in the 21st century. Pump the brakes.

4. With that said, I do like the diversity in skills and physical traits of the pass catchers added by general manager Ozzie Newsome. Even the surest thing, Michael Crabtree, coming off a down season makes you nervous, but there is enough potential and upside in this group to be hopeful.

5. Willie Snead was impressive in his press conference earlier this week, taking accountability for his difficult 2017 season without pointing any fingers for his disappearance in the New Orleans offense. Now we’ll find out if he was a byproduct of Drew Brees and Sean Payton or a productive slot option.

6. Drafting Anthony Averett gave Baltimore 11 corners on the preseason roster with as many as seven of those held in high regard. Health will factor heavily into the makeup of this group, of course, but the possibility of a late-summer trade to address another position of need still seems plausible.

7. Tight ends frequently struggle in their rookie season and his age could limit his overall ceiling, but I have little doubt that Hayden Hurst will be as good as he’s capable of being after reading this terrific piece by Bleacher Report’s Dan Pompei. He’s already dealt with failure admirably.

8. Since many have cited Marty Mornhinweg’s work with Michael Vick in Philadelphia to endorse the first-round selection of Jackson, I’ll note that Flacco’s numbers began declining as soon as Mornhinweg took over as his quarterbacks coach the year after arguably the best regular season of his career.

9. I’m curious to see how DeShon Elliott fits at the NFL level as Pro Football Focus views him as a free safety while others envision him playing more in the box. The Ravens hitting on a late-round safety after using so many resources at the position recently would be helpful.

10. Jordan Lasley is the kind of prospect on which a team should take a chance in the fifth round. His off-field issues were far from egregious, but the key will be whether his issues with drops are correctable. I still like the pick at a position lacking any long-term answers.

11. Considering their impeccable track record with undrafted free agents, the Ravens tying a franchise record with 12 picks in the draft was surprising. You just hope they didn’t miss out on some quality players in the name of adding so much quantity in the later rounds.

12. With Baker Mayfield going first overall to Cleveland, Jackson being the final pick of the first round, and first-round hopeful Mason Rudolph sliding to Pittsburgh in the third round, ESPN would have a good “30 for 30” topic if the quarterback future of the AFC North comes to fruition.

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Ravens decline to pick up fifth-year option on receiver Perriman

Posted on 02 May 2018 by Luke Jones

Wide receiver Breshad Perriman’s future was in doubt long before the Ravens declined to pick up their fifth-year option on the former first-round pick this week.

According to NFL Network, Baltimore will not exercise its option on Perriman, which would have paid him $9.387 million for the 2019 season. That decision was hardly a shock with the 2015 first-round pick coming off an abysmal season in which he caught only 10 passes for 77 yards on 34 targets. Pro Football Focus graded the 24-year-old last among 116 qualified wide receivers in 2017.

What remains to be seen is whether Perriman will even make the team this fall after being a healthy scratch in four of the final seven games of 2017. General manager Ozzie Newsome has revamped the wide receiver group this offseason by signing veterans Michael Crabtree, John Brown, and Willie Snead and taking two wide receivers — Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley — on the final day of last week’s draft. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Perriman is owed a $649,485 bonus on the third day of training camp, which could prompt an early-summer departure if he doesn’t show dramatic improvement this spring.

The Ravens can save $1.622 million in salary cap space by cutting Perriman.

Injuries have played a substantial part in his disappointing career as he missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury, was sidelined for most of the 2016 preseason with another knee injury, and missed substantial time with a hamstring injury last summer. However, his on-field regression in 2017 was alarming after he had at least been a functional contributor in 2016 with 33 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games.

Perriman is the only wide receiver to be drafted by the Ravens on Day 1 or Day 2 in their last seven drafts, a big reason why the organization has found itself in poor shape at the position on a near-annual basis.

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International player added to Ravens roster for 2018

Posted on 01 May 2018 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will have the option of an extra player on their practice squad this season as German fullback Chris Ezeala was awarded to them as part of the International Player Pathway program.

The initiative began last year and is designed to give a small group of international players the opportunity to compete at the NFL level. Ezeala will be on the preseason roster with Baltimore then having the option to place him on the practice squad during the regular season if he doesn’t make the 53-man roster. As a special exemption for the normal 10-man developmental squad, he would be ineligible to be activated during the season.

Ezeala, 22, played fullback and linebacker in the German Football League for the Ingolstadt Dukes and began playing the sport for the Munich Rangers and Allgäu Comets. He and seven other international players have been training alongside other NFL players and draft hopefuls in Florida for the past three months, working with a group of coaches that included former Ravens running back Earnest Byner and former Ravens defensive backs coach Donnie Henderson

“My coaches told me that while there are many linebackers like me in the NFL, there is no fullback that is so athletic and fast,” Ezeala said in a press release. “They are trying to create a new type of player with me.”

Ezeala has typical fullback size at 5-foot-11 and 243 pounds, but his 40-yard dash time really stands out as he completed the run in 4.54 seconds, according to the Ravens official website.

In other Tuesday roster news, the Ravens claimed former Cleveland defensive back Kai Nacua off waivers. The 2017 rookie free agent from Brigham Young appeared in all 16 games for the Browns as a rookie, making three starts and collecting 14 tackles.

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What to expect from Ravens’ 2018 draft picks

Posted on 29 April 2018 by Luke Jones

The picks are in for the 2018 draft, so what can we now expect from the Ravens’ 12 selections?

Below is the early look at how each rookie fits:

TE Hayden Hurst
Drafted: First round (25th overall) from South Carolina
2018 projected role: Tight ends generally struggle in their rookie season, but the 24-year-old will have every chance to become the primary guy with Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams better suited as blockers.
Long-term view: His 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame and good hands offer hope that he can become Baltimore’s best all-around tight end since Todd Heap with the ability to move around formations. He will be critical in helping Joe Flacco now and aiding in Lamar Jackson’s development for the future.

QB Lamar Jackson
Drafted: First round (32nd overall) from Louisville
2018 projected role: The quarterback of the future will need time to develop as a backup, but the Ravens would be wise to pick their spots to utilize his athleticism and expose him to some game action.
Long-term view: Jackson’s throwing mechanics and ability to function with pressure in an NFL pocket are significant questions, but his tools make him an intriguing talent the Ravens have never had at the position. The hope is he ushers in a new era for the organization, but there is much work to be done.

OT Orlando Brown Jr.
Drafted: Third round (83rd overall) from Oklahoma
2018 projected role: The son of former Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown will compete with veteran James Hurst for the starting right tackle job.
Long-term view: A historically-poor combine performance didn’t wipe out how the organization felt about his strong game tape, but questions about his weight, strength, and foot speed cannot be dismissed. You love the pedigree, but Brown has much to prove to reward the Ravens’ faith in him.

TE Mark Andrews
Drafted: Third round (86th overall) from Oklahoma
2018 projected role: The 6-foot-5 target will compete for situational snaps in the passing game as a big slot option and should have a real chance to make an impact inside the red zone.
Long-term view: Andrews is a wide receiver trapped in a tight end’s body and is not considered much of a blocker, meaning he’ll need to make substantial contributions in the pass game. In a perfect world, he slides into the old Dennis Pitta role, which was a big part of the Ravens’ success in the past.

CB Anthony Averett
Drafted: Fourth round (118th overall) from Alabama
2018 projected role: The 5-foot-11, 183-pound defensive back has a slew of names ahead of him on the depth chart, meaning he’ll need to be a good special-teams player to see the field as a rookie.
Long-term view: Being a two-year starter for the Crimson Tide speaks for itself, but Averett lacks the physicality of Marlon Humphrey and has more to prove. Eventually becoming a No. 2 starting cornerback isn’t out of the question, but Averett can provide valuable depth at the very least.

LB Kenny Young
Drafted: Fourth round (122nd overall) from UCLA
2018 projected role: Young has the athleticism to compete with Patrick Onwuasor for the weak-side inside linebacker spot next to C.J. Mosley, a position that wasn’t stellar for the Ravens last season.
Long-term view: A full-time starter for three seasons with the Bruins, Young has coverage skills that could add a dimension the Baltimore defense sorely needs. He should contribute on special teams immediately with the chance to eventually move into a starting role.

WR Jaleel Scott
Drafted: Fourth round (132nd overall) from New Mexico State
2018 projected role: The 6-foot-5 receiver will compete for situational snaps and could get looks as a contributor inside the red zone if he shows enough during the spring and summer.
Long-term view: You love the size and Scott made some acrobatic catches last year, but he lacks speed and is the kind of raw prospect the Ravens have rarely had success developing into anything of consequence. Baltimore has lacked a jump-ball threat for years, so Scott has a chance to be just that.

WR Jordan Lasley
Drafted: Fifth round (162nd overall) from UCLA
2018 projected role: Lasley will compete for a roster spot and will need to play special teams, but he showed the big-play ability in college to potentially earn some chances at the receiver position.
Long-term view: Off-field issues and bad hands led to Lasley’s slide down the draft board, but he averaged 18.3 yards per catch and accumulated 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games last season. He’s the proverbial boom-or-bust prospect, making him a decent gamble in the fifth round.

S DeShon Elliott
Drafted: Sixth round (190th overall) from Texas
2018 projected role: Much like Chuck Clark a year ago, the first-team All-American safety will need to shine on special teams to secure a roster spot in a deep secondary.
Long-term view: Opinions are mixed, but many seem to view Elliott as more of a box safety needing to play closer to the line of scrimmage to succeed. He’ll have a difficult time carving out a defensive role early, but he has the potential to eventually develop into a hybrid option.

OT Greg Senat
Drafted: Sixth round (212th overall) from Wagner
2018 projected role: The former college basketball player has good length and will compete for a roster spot or an opportunity on the practice squad.
Long-term view: Senat needs to get stronger and unsurprisingly needs to improve his blocking technique, but this is the kind of prospect that makes perfect sense late in the sixth round. At the very least, offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris has a good athlete with which to work.

C Bradley Bozeman
Drafted: Sixth round (215th overall) from Alabama
2018 projected role: The 6-foot-5, 315-pound lineman will compete for a roster spot or a place on the practice squad at a position lacking a long-term answer.
Long-term view: You like the pedigree of someone who made 31 career starts for the Crimson Tide, but Bozeman’s lack of athleticism and strength explain him lasting until the sixth round. His instincts and success in the SEC make him a decent developmental option with limited upside.

DE Zach Sieler
Drafted: Seventh round (238th overall) from Ferris State
2018 projected role: The Division II All-American selection will compete for a roster spot or a place on the practice squad with the defensive line being so deep.
Long-term view: Ozzie Newsome taking a defensive lineman from a small school as his final draft choice is fitting, but Sieler’s 6-foot-6, 290-pound frame fits the mold of an NFL 5-technique lineman. With Brent Urban and Carl Davis not signed beyond 2018, Sieler is at least worth keeping an eye on.

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Final chapter of Newsome’s Ravens draft legacy yet to be defined

Posted on 29 April 2018 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Emotions ran high as the Ravens concluded the final draft of Ozzie Newsome’s impeccable run as general manager.

Successor Eric DeCosta choked up as he spoke about his mentor, describing how owner Steve Bisciotti switched their chairs in the draft room to signify the changing of the guard.

John Harbaugh shared his belief that this was the franchise’s best draft in his 11 seasons as head coach. Others have wasted no time heaping praise upon Baltimore’s work.

Of course, Newsome himself brought the appropriate context in judging his 23rd and final draft.

“We did address a lot of areas, but ask me two years from now,” Newsome said. “Because now we have to get them in, we have to work with them, we have to develop them. Then, two years from now, we’ll be able to determine what job we did this weekend.”

The Ravens surely checked boxes by drafting tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews as well as offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the most heartwarming pick of the weekend. On the final day, they attempted to address other needs by taking inside linebacker Kenny Young as well as wide receivers Jaleel Scott and Jordan Lasley to develop for the future.

But make no mistake, the fate of the 2018 draft will ultimately be defined by Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. That’s just reality when you take a quarterback in the first round, regardless of what Newsome might have given up in the trade or how the Ravens were able to secure a fifth-year option with shrewd maneuvering.

Just ask Super Bowl XXXV champion coach Brian Billick about the 2003 draft. The first round may have featured potential Hall of Fame linebacker Terrell Suggs, but quarterback bust Kyle Boller ultimately cost Billick his job four years later.

The Jackson pick isn’t a flier or a low risk as those attempting to soft-pedal the likely ousting of Joe Flacco have suggested. If he doesn’t become the franchise quarterback, the ramifications are substantial, ranging from a missed opportunity to really strengthen the roster to high-profile jobs potentially being lost.

Squandering a first-round pick is significant even when it isn’t a quarterback. Consider the many resources the Ravens have exhausted at the safety position since drafting Matt Elam five years ago. Baltimore is still dealing with the fallout of Breshad Perriman failing to develop into a functional wide receiver three years after being drafted.

Jackson’s selection following his electrifying career at Louisville has reinvigorated much of a disgruntled fan base over the last few days, but recent history suggests the odds are against him panning out. Of the 17 quarterbacks drafted 15th through 45th overall from 2007-16 — a range chosen to satisfy varying opinions of his value — only seven spent more than one full season as a starter and one of those was Geno Smith. Just three — Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, Oakland’s Derek Carr, and Flacco — are present-day starting quarterbacks with the others either surviving as backups or out of the league entirely.

Those odds are why those now being labeled by some as Flacco apologists balked at using such valuable draft capital on his replacement rather than at another position with a higher success rate to try to help the 33-year-old who led the franchise to a championship five years ago.

Where will the Ravens be in two years?

If the talented Jackson is on his way to becoming a franchise quarterback and helping his team to the playoffs, even detractors of Thursday’s pick will need to give Newsome his due. If he isn’t, there’s no telling what the fallout could be for a team with just one playoff appearance since Super Bowl XLVII.

Of course, this is where the rest of the draft class also comes into play as any quarterback is impacted dramatically by his environment.

Is at least one of the combination of Hurst and Andrews serving as the impact tight end the Ravens have lacked since the early days of Dennis Pitta and Todd Heap before that?

Will Scott or Lasley break the mold of so many failed Day 3 wide receivers to help improve the position’s long-term outlook? That will be a critical need for the young quarterback.

Does an eventual starter and a solid backup or two emerge from the group of Brown, Young, cornerback Anthony Averett, and a quartet of sixth- and seventh-rounders?

Only the answers to these questions will determine whether the current praise for Newsome’s swansong draft is warranted.

It’s understandable for so many to want to pay tribute to the general manager after all he’s accomplished. No one can take away a body of work that includes two Super Bowl championships, 10 playoff appearances in a 15-year period, two homegrown Hall of Famers (with at least one or two more to come), and 18 homegrown Pro Bowl players. Newsome is more than deserving of being a Hall of Fame executive after being a Hall of Fame tight end.

But let’s follow his own advice and pump the brakes on declaring this draft to be his final masterpiece.

That will be determined by whether the master plan to replace Flacco with Jackson succeeds.

Remember many Ravens fans were once miffed that Jonathan Ogden was chosen over Lawrence Phillips while others initially celebrated the likes of Boller, Elam, and Perriman in past first rounds.

We’ll know the truth in two years.

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