Even if some eccentric genius had unlocked the secret to time travel, the Baltimore Ravens wouldn’t give up their star quarterback for anything.
Maybe Josh Allen or Patrick Mahomes. But other than that, the Ravens have not regretted and will not regret taking Lamar Jackson 32nd overall in 2018.
But let’s play with some other possibilities, shall we?
Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport wrote up a draft do-over for every NFL team over the past decade, irrevocably changing the destinies of players and franchises combined.
He had Josh Allen, not Sam Darnold, landing with the New York Jets and Patrick Mahomes, not Mitchell Trubisky, landing with the Chicago Bears. What an unbelievable swap that would have been.
Davenport also gave Lamar Jackson a new home on the Arizona Cardinals, erasing the Josh Rosen pick (and the future Kyler Murray one) from history.
"“Lamar Jackson was the enigma of that year’s QB class. Sure, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner had athleticism galore, but could he play quarterback in the pros?This do-over really is fascinating. If the Cardinals have Jackson, there’s no need to draft Murray the following year. And what do the Ravens do under center?”"
If Josh Rosen is the poster boy for what could have been, Lamar Jackson is the poster boy for constantly being doubted and underestimated.
Baltimore Ravens miss out on Lamar Jackson in draft do-over, pick up Tyrann Mathieu instead
In just his second season in the NFL, Jackson set a record for most rushing yards by a quarterback (1,206 yards) and won league MVP. He followed up his 2019 campaign with another 1,000-yard rushing season and all but cemented his status as Baltimore’s uniquely talented quarterback of the future.
His playoff record pales in comparison to that of other top signal-callers of his generation, but there’s no doubt that Jackson is a franchise-altering draft pick.
He revolutionized the Ravens’ offense and would likely do the same on the Cardinals, had Arizona been able to look into the future and predict Rosen’s disastrous career.
As for the Ravens, 2013 third-rounder Tyrann Mathieu would have served as a home-run pick for their defense, making the same impact at safety as Marlon Humphrey has made in the cornerback unit.
A secondary composed of Humphrey, Mathieu, and Marcus Peters seems much too powerful and may have caused a glitch in the NFL universe, but imagining Mathieu in black and purple for most of his career is a fantastical dream indeed.
As good as Mathieu is, he’s not Lamar Jackson, and he wouldn’t have changed the identity of the Ravens quite as much. Davenport raises a fair question: if the Ravens hadn’t picked Jackson, who do they have under center instead?
In 2018, Joe Flacco had already outlived his illustrious tenure in Baltimore, so the franchise probably would have sprung for another rookie quarterback that year or in the following years. Baker Mayfield? Joe Burrow?
Trying to imagine current AFC North quarterbacks play for the Ravens is painful and difficult and just not a productive use of time.
NFL writers can dream all they want about their craziest what-if scenarios, but the Ravens are quite happy with Lamar Jackson, and that’s that.