The Ravens filled their biggest immediate hole on the roster, drafted presumably the quarterback of the future and lit a fire under the fan base. Things just got a whole lot more interesting in Baltimore.
That’s John Eisenberg’s summary of what went down Thursday night in Dallas.
After trading back twice for a total of nine spots, Baltimore grabbed the top tight end in the draft class, filling a huge need while improving their draft stock.
Baltimore selected South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst with the No. 25 pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Hurst is considered the top tight end in this year’s class. He’s a pass-catching target and, unlike some of the other tight ends in the class, is also a willing and capable blocker.
Over the last two seasons, Hurst caught 92 passes for 1,175 yards and three touchdowns. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Hurst has the size and athleticism to create a lot of mismatches, and put up even bigger stats, in the NFL. Hurst has incredibly soft hands and makes a lot of contested catches. He reels in everything that comes his way.
The Ravens only had Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams in their tight end room, and they are better blockers than receivers. Thus, Hurst should have an immediate impact in Baltimore’s offense.
Hurst also has an interesting backstory. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft and he spent two years as a pitcher in the Gulf Coast League. He moved back to football and walked onto the Gamecocks’ football team in the summer of 2015, playing in 12 games as a receiver and tight end. He was an immediate starter despite the transition.
In just his second season, Hurst set South Carolina tight end records for receptions (48) and yards (616). Hurst was the first sophomore in USC history to be a team captain. His late arrival to football means he’ll turn 25 years old before this season begins.
The Ravens had an opportunity to draft some top defensive talents such as Florida State safety Derwin James, with their 16th pick. They traded back and still had all the top pass catchers on the board. They then moved back again, this time three spots.
The Carolina Panthers took Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore at No. 24, one pick ahead of Baltimore. The Atlanta Falcons then selected Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley at No. 26, one pick behind the Ravens.
Baltimore moved up into the end of the first round to grab perhaps the most dynamic offensive player in the draft. It could usher in a new era of Ravens offensive football.
The Ravens pulled off the shocker of all shockers before Thursday night was over.
Baltimore selected Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick of the 2018 NFL Draft in a major move that could usher in a new era of offensive football.
Just when it looked like the Ravens were done on Day 1, they moved back up into the end of the first round in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Ravens traded their second-round pick (No. 52 overall), and second fourth-round pick (No. 125), which they acquired in an earlier trade to move back, to jump in the first round. Baltimore also sent a 2019 second-round pick. It was a 20-pick jump to grab Jackson.
Picking Jackson means the Ravens now have major questions and talent at quarterback. Joe Flacco is slated to be the starter in 2018, but Baltimore could part ways with its Super Bowl-winning quarterback after the season. The Ravens could save about $10 million by cutting Flacco next offseason.
Jackson may require an offensive overhaul for the Ravens since one of his greatest assets is his ability to improvise and run – completely different from Flacco.
Jackson put up eye-popping stats in his three college seasons.
In a Heisman Trophy-winning 2016 campaign, Jackson passed for 3,543 yards and 30 touchdowns with nine interceptions. He also rushed for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Last season, he threw for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ran for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns.