(ABC7) — Ozzie Newsome ended his final first round in the NFL Draft as a general manager in spectacular fashion.
The man they call "the Wizard" pulled off three trades on his way to selecting Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick in what is very much perceived as a symbolic final act to secure the future of his football team.
"It was masterful the way it happened in the draft room tonight," Newsome said in a press conference.
Jackson set the football world on fire with his 2016 Heisman Trophy season, so routinely making otherworldly play after otherworldly play that many fans did not bat an eye when he put up similar numbers in 2017.
"When the ball's in his hands, there hadn't been a better playmaker in the last few years coming out," said head coach John Harbaugh.
"The Ravens are going to get a Super Bowl out of me, believe that," Jackson told Deion Sanders on-stage at AT&T Stadium.
Back-to-back seasons with over 3,500 yards passing, 30 touchdown passes in 2016, 27 in 2017 and over 4,000 yards and 50 scores on the ground during a decorated college career were not enough to stop Jackson from falling to Thursday's final pick. Jackson's playmaking ability is undisputed but questions about his mechanics, thin frame and unique playing style persisted.
“There’s a chip on my shoulder. Both shoulders," Jackson said of his draft day slide. "It’s motivation.”
The obvious question, of course, is what does this pick mean for Joe Flacco? His MVP performance in Super Bowl XLVII seems long ago and he is preparing for his 11th year in the league.
"Joe Flacco is our quarterback," Harbaugh stated emphatically.
Harbaugh says the pick had more to do with a talented quarterback being within reach, explaining that Baltimore is looking to grow Jackson behind Flacco the way the New England Patriots have done with multiple young passers (with varying degrees of success) behind Tom Brady.
"This really doesn't change things in the sense that we're going to go with Joe and Joe's going to roll," said Harbaugh, who is also entering year 11 and has relied upon Flacco as his quarterback since the beginning.
While Jackson is the player who, rightfully, is getting the most attention, it was tight end Hayden Hurst from South Carolina who became the Ravens first pick in 2018 after they traded back from 16, then 22 and finally turned in the card at pick 25.
“When I was on my visit [to Baltimore], I had a strange feeling it was a perfect fit,” Hurst said.
As Harbaugh said, this is still Flacco's team and he has been at his most elite with a matchup tight end who can also be relied upon as a security blanket.
Because of that, Hurst will almost certainly make the earliest impact for the Ravens moving forward. The prevailing opinion, echoed by Harbaugh, has been that Jackson's ideal situation is to sit and learn behind a veteran for at least a season while cultivating mass, similar to what Patrick Mahomes did with the Kansas City Chiefs a season ago.
So odds are, Jackson's waiting was just getting started with draft night. But no matter when he takes over, the most electrifying signal caller since Michael Vick says the Ravens’ Flock should prepare for an exciting future.
"Y'all gonna get a lot of wins," Jackson said with a hungry look in his eyes. "I'm coming."
Baltimore gets back to work Friday at 7 p.m. when rounds two and three kickoff. The Ravens sent the Philadelphia Eagles their 2018 second rounder, swapped fourth rounders and gave up their second round pick in 2019 in the move up for Jackson.
Newsome acquired the top pick in the third round from the Buffalo Bills, an extra fourth round pick from the Tennessee Titans used in the Jackson trade while sending the Titans the later of the Ravens’ two sixth round picks.