Ravens need more from Lamar Jackson, NFL Draft rumors and more


Lamar Jackson is already phenomenal, coming off being the NFL MVP. Nevertheless, for the Baltimore Ravens to win a Tremendous Bowl, he should enhance once more.

Lamar Jackson must comply with in Patrick Mahomes’ footsteps.

The deeper actuality is way extra advanced, but it surely boils all the way down to a singular thought.

Jackson and Mahomes are the final two NFL MVPs. Two years in the past, Mahomes captivated the NFL world, throwing for five,zero97 yards and 50 touchdowns. He led the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs to the AFC’s high seed and was inside a Dee Ford penalty from dethroning the New England Patriots.

Mahomes then returned in 2019 and noticed his numbers decline. Lacking two video games with a dislocated kneecap and battling by way of season-long ankle points, Mahomes barely eclipsed four,000 yards passing and threw for under 24 touchdowns.

By any statistical measure, he regressed. But the movie confirmed a distinct story. It confirmed Mahomes making extra on-time performs. It confirmed a extra intuitive understanding of the protection. It confirmed a extra assertive chief.

Finally, it confirmed Mahomes holding up the Lombardi Trophy.

Enter Jackson.

Jackson, 23, is phenomenal. The Baltimore Ravens’ All-Professional quarterback accounted for 43 whole touchdowns and four,333 yards in 15 regular-season video games final season.

He led the Ravens to a 14-2 report, the league’s greatest. Baltimore was a heavy favourite to demolish the Tennessee Titans within the AFC Divisionals, solely to be rudely upended.

Getting into his third season, Jackson is tasked with profitable the Tremendous Bowl. In some way, a quarterback with no playoff win has to win all of it or have his marketing campaign branded a failure. Thus is the NFL.

To grow to be a champion, historical past suggests he must proceed bettering as a passer.

As a rookie, Jackson accomplished 58.2 p.c of his makes an attempt for 7.1 YPA. Final yr, these numbers jumped to 66.1 p.c and seven.eight YPA. His share of throws for touchdowns skyrocketed from three.5 to 9.zero, the league’s high quantity.

Regression says Jackson gained’t rush for a quarterback-record 1,206 yards, or launch a landing move on each tenth throw. Odds are considerably stacked in opposition to both being repeated, whether or not or not it’s for harm, defensive gameplans or poor luck.

To fight this, Jackson wants to enhance on the margins. his movie, the previous Heisman Trophy winner could be extra correct on throws outdoors the numbers and on the intermediate stage. Jackson’s means to know defensive schemes additionally has room for enchancment, which is true of any quarterback at this stage of his profession.

The numbers are going to deflate, however his play doesn’t have to go along with them. Mahomes was residing proof of this final yr. Jackson can do the identical in 2020.

Very like the Chiefs, Baltimore is powerful in most areas of the roster. Hell, there’s a robust case to be made the Ravens have the league’s greatest 53. Even with the retirement of future Corridor of Fame guard Marshal Yanda, Baltimore has assembled an elite group, now bolstered with the offseason additions of defensive linemen Derek Wolfe and Calais Campbell.

At 23 years previous, Jackson has already reached the top of particular person achievement. He’s the MVP,  and the face of his franchise. He’s a family title even for these usually unaware of NFL stars.

Nonetheless, there’s a lot to show. It could appear unfair for an MVP to want enchancment. Why can’t the remainder of his staff get higher? Why don’t the receivers tackle extra questions after a substandard 2019?

As a result of the quarterback is the flashpoint of each staff, and if he takes a quantum leap, the staff will come together with him.

Final yr, it was Mahomes largely left within the shadows as Jackson dazzled. Then January — and February — got here, and Mahomes rose to the forefront.

Time for Jackson to comply with Mahomes’ blueprint.

Energy rankings

High 10 excellent first-round NFL Draft suits 

1. Tua Tagovailoa, QB -> Miami Dolphins
2. Joe Burrow, QB -> Cincinnati Bengals
three. Andrew Thomas, LT -> Arizona Cardinals
four. Ceedee Lamb, WR -> New York Jets
5. Henry Ruggs III, WR -> Las Vegas Raiders
6. Jeffrey Okudah, CB -> Detroit Lions
7. Chase Younger, EDGE -> Washington Redskins
eight. Denzel Mims, WR -> Minnesota Vikings
9. Justin Jefferson, WR -> Philadelphia Eagles
10. Isaiah Simmons, LB -> New York Giants

Quotable

“I’ve talked to Logan’s illustration there. I might say there’s nothing imminent within the works. We now have touched base with Clowney’s illustration too, and simply … attempting to navigate the place that one may be.”

– Tennessee Titans basic supervisor Jon Robinson on Jadeveon Clowney’s continued free company

Clowney stays the highest free agent obtainable, and one who should be disenchanted at his market. This time final yr, Clowney was on the franchise tag and a league supply advised FanSided he was searching for $20 million per yr. Clearly, he and the Texans by no means made a deal, and he was dealt in the summertime to the Seattle Seahawks for a third-round decide.

Now, Clowney is unsigned two weeks into free company. The Titans could be an excellent touchdown spot contemplating the expertise round him, however will Clowney lastly settle for a deal value far lower than his personal perceived worth?

Clowney’s greatest guess for a mega deal? Signal a one-year pact, play an injury-free season with nice manufacturing, and hit the market in 2021 when the wage cap is projected to blow up below the brand new CBA.

Podcast

Random stat

The San Francisco 49ers gained the NFC West yearly from 1986-97, save for 1996. In some way, the second-year Carolina Panthers had been the party-crashers led by the pinnacle coach-quarterback combo of Dom Capers and Kerry Collins.

The Panthers toppled the Tremendous Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys earlier than falling to the Inexperienced Bay Packers within the NFC Championship Sport.

As for San Francisco, it was the longest run of consecutive division titles within the Tremendous Bowl period till the present streak of 11 by the New England Patriots.

Information realized this week

1. Winston, Newton stay in the marketplace

It’s possible Jameis Winston and Cam Newton aren’t signed previous to the NFL Draft.

Whereas something is feasible, Winston and Newton may be pressured to be with out employment for at the least the following three weeks. Why? As a result of entrance places of work will wish to undergo the draft, see what their quarterback room seems like afterwards, assess their staff depth chart after which determine if signing a veteran signal-caller is the most effective use of cap house.

Moreover, it’s a bear marketplace for each.

The Los Angeles Chargers make sense contemplating they’ve Tyrod Taylor and little else, however they appear more likely to draft a quarterback within the first spherical. Past Los Angeles, there’s nowhere for both to start out.

In Winston’s case, threw for greater than 5,000 yards final yr however infamously tossed 30 interceptions. His former staff, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, made little effort to maintain him. His best-case situation is latching on with a staff as a high-priced backup, finally getting an opportunity to start out and proving his value on a one-year deal.

As for Newton, he’s coming off a major right-shoulder surgical procedure after which missed the ultimate 14 video games of final yr with a foot harm. He’s 31 years previous and has been trending downward since being the NFL MVP in 2015. There’s an opportunity he can bounce again and luxuriate in extra terrific soccer. There’s an equally actual likelihood he’s toast.

Once more, if the worth is true maybe a deal will get completed previous to the draft, however good cash says these strikes will come when groups have extra certainty.

2. Jaguars’ Ngakoue shall be subsequent huge commerce piece

The Jaguars know they should transfer edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue earlier than the draft.

Search for a transfer within the subsequent few weeks, with Jacksonville actively fielding provides. This finish stage has lengthy been coming within the relationship, per a number of sources.

The preliminary discord started final summer season when Ngakoue wished a long-term deal however was rebuffed by the Jaguars’ entrance workplace. Ngakoue performed the season out regardless of nagging accidents, however as soon as it concluded, probabilities of him returning to Jacksonville had been near zero p.c.

So what can the Jaguars fetch for his or her 24-year-old star? Right here’s what I wrote again in January:

Listed below are the numbers on Dee Ford, Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney earlier to this season:

  • Clark: 25 years previous, 2 missed video games, 35 sacks
    Ford: 27 years previous, 13 missed video games, 30.5 sacks
    Clowney: 25 years previous, 18 missed video games, 29 sacks

In 4 years, Ngakoue totaled 37.5 sacks and was named to the Professional Bowl in 2017. Final season, the D.C. native had eight sacks in 15 video games.

Whereas Clark and Clowney are considerably higher in opposition to the run in comparison with Ngakoue and Ford, the comparisons counsel Ngakoue might carry again a first-round decide. If the Jaguars had been to get that, they’d have three first-round decisions come April.

This all stays true. If Jacksonville doesn’t get a first-round decide for Ngakoue, it’s dangerous commerce from its perspective.

three. New uniforms will come quick and livid this month

Virtually a fourth of the league’s groups shall be getting new seems this offseason. Preserve an eye fixed out.

On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are unveiling their new look. Later in April, the Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons are slated to launch new duds earlier than the NFL Draft. The Los Angeles Rams already confirmed off their new emblem, and have uniforms coming as properly. Lastly, the Indianapolis Colts even have minor updates coming.

As considerably of a uniform nerd, that is each thrilling and borderline unprecedented. There have been years the place we’ve had a ton of latest seems, however that’s usually been due to the Colour Rush or the league’s 75th anniversary in 1994. Having seven groups change their branding is an unimaginable quantity in a single offseason.

four. Tua will get extra excellent news on the medical entrance

On March 9, former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was advised he had medical clearance to have full exercises. Now, he’s gotten the most effective information. His repaired hip — the damaged, dislocated hip from November — has totally healed. He’s full-go heading into the NFL Draft.

Initially, his professional day was scheduled for April 9, though it has been cancelled as a result of coronavirus outbreak. Had he been capable of throw, it could have been the most important spectacle of the draft course of with everybody eager to see how he takes care of such a severe harm.

With little greater than two weeks till the Bengals go on the clock, Tagovailoa is clearly a candidate to be chosen within the high 5. His school tape is terrific, the numbers chic and the character impeccable. The one questions are well being, and the way a lot did he profit from enjoying on a digital all-star staff?

Clearly, these solutions will are available time. What we do know? Tagovailoa has been deemed wholesome, and now we get to see which basic supervisor stakes his profession on the tantalizing teenager come April 23.

5. NFL Draft could have more and more distinctive really feel, take care of newest memo

The league has advised groups they’ll both draft from their residences or their amenities.

A memo from the Commissioner’s workplace went out to the 32 golf equipment stating there are two choices the league is contemplating for the draft. Both they draft from the staff amenities or private residences.

This comes as no shock contemplating the state of the nation, but it surely does add a fascination to one of many league’s greatest occasions. Come April 23, the league will begin a three-day strategy of figuring out the futures of greater than 250 soccer gamers, and a few groups could also be doing so basically from their residing rooms.

Historical past lesson

In 1999, the New Orleans Saints traded their total draft class to the Redskins for the correct to pick College of Texas working again Ricky Williams.

New Orleans, satisfied Williams could possibly be the beginning of a great run within the Massive Simple, made arguably probably the most absurd commerce in NFL historical past.

In some way, the commerce ended up badly for each side. Washington, regardless of having a complete second draft class, didn’t grow to be a perennial energy. In actual fact, probably the most notable participant it drafted with these picks was future Corridor of Famer cornerback Champ Bailey, who the Redskins traded within the prime of his profession for working again Clinton Portis.

Parting shot

Politics and sports activities columns don’t combine, till they do.

On Saturday, President Trump met through teleconference with a number of commissioners of sports activities leagues, together with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Afterwards, experiences had the president stating his perception the league would possible be capable of play a full season beginning at its regular September time.

It’s unclear whether or not Trump believes this due to medical personnel giving him such a timeline, or if it’s wishful thought.

With the coronavirus changing into extra lethal by the hour in the USA, the longer term course of this pandemic is not possible to know. With the NFL season greater than 5 months away, it’s anyone’s guess whether or not video games shall be performed come the second weekend of September.

Possibly Trump is true. For soccer followers, that will be welcome information amidst of sea of very disagreeable tales in current months.

The truth is very similar to the response to COVID-19, sports activities will largely be decided by state coverage. For instance, Missouri or Florida may be open to the concept of full stadiums come autumn and even late summer season, however what occurs if California and New York should not?

It’s one in every of many, many situations and questions.

Finally, although, no one could be positive what occurs subsequent, not to mention months from now.

We’ll wait.

We’ll see.

We’ll hope for the most effective.



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