2019 Ravens training camp preview: Quarterbacks


With training camp beginning Thursday and the preseason opener only a few weeks away, we’ll look at each Ravens position group before veterans begin reporting to Owings Mills for the first full-squad practice.
Running backs
Defensive line
Tight ends
Offensive line
Inside linebackers
Wide receivers
Outside linebackers
We conclude at quarterback, a position group that doesn’t include Super Bowl XVLII MVP Joe Flacco for the first time since George W. Bush was president and Brian Billick was head coach of the Ravens. General manager Eric DeCosta and head coach John Harbaugh are all in on 22-year-old starter Lamar Jackson, who helped rally the Ravens to a 6-1 finish and their first AFC North championship since 2012 after Flacco injured his hip last November. New offensive coordinator Greg Roman was tasked with building the offense “from the ground up” this offseason to best fit Jackson’s unique skill set, and the backup quarterbacks have a similar profile, albeit to a less dynamic degree.
Transforming from one of the most pass-heavy offenses to the most run-heavy attack in the NFL on the fly last season, the Ravens showed their willingness to zig while the rest of the league zags, a trend that will continue this season. The coaching staff won’t be asking Jackson — or any of the quarterbacks — to try to imitate the league’s best quarterbacks by throwing 40 to 50 times per game, but more efficiency and explosiveness in the passing game will be critical for the Ravens to stay ahead of opposing defenses gearing to slow down their ground game.
Below is a look at the quarterbacks who stand out for various reasons:
The Man — Lamar Jackson
Skinny: Jackson was in a tough position replacing an injured veteran starter in what was designed to be a developmental year, but he responded by leading the league in rushing yards by a quarterback and becoming the youngest quarterback in NFL history to start a playoff game. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner certainly didn’t do it alone as one of the league’s best defenses and a strong special-teams unit allowed the Ravens to fully embrace a complementary run-first offensive style, but there was no denying the spark Jackson provided as young players and veterans rallied around him. This is his team now.
Old Reliable — Robert Griffin III
Skinny: Washington fans would likely mock such a label for Griffin, but he was a welcome addition last year in what could have been an awkward quarterback room. His physical tools and past experiences — many of them not exactly positive — have made him an invaluable mentor for Jackson, but Griffin is only 29 and provides a much-needed insurance policy in an offense requiring a mobile quarterback. In a perfect world, Griffin doesn’t have to take a single snap in 2019, but he offers a higher ceiling than many backup quarterbacks around the league should something happen to Jackson.
Under Fire — Jackson
Skinny: Though feeling no heat from the organization beyond the normal expectations of being the starter, Jackson is one of the league’s more polarizing young players with his biggest supporters pointing to his good field vision and success throwing over the middle and his detractors dwelling on his 58.2 percent completion rate and league-leading 15 fumbles counting the postseason. There’s no arguing the need to dramatically improve his ball security, but the key to Jackson’s long-term growth will be finding more accuracy and success throwing outside the numbers, something he struggled to do as a rookie.
Up-and-Comer — Jackson
Skinny: Time will tell how Jackson develops as a passer, but he threw the ball with more zip during spring workouts and has plenty of young pass-catching options with which to grow this summer and beyond. Much has been made about curtailing his rushing — with even owner Steve Bisciotti chiming in — after Jackson set the post-merger single-season NFL record for most attempts by a quarterback, but Baltimore must be careful not to take away what makes him special as a player. What the Ravens are doing with Jackson and their offense could boom or bust, but it will be fascinating to watch it play out.
Sleeper — Trace McSorley
Skinny: The comparisons to New Orleans hybrid quarterback Taysom Hill are probably overblown with the sixth-round rookie from Penn State considerably smaller, but the Ravens hope to see him show enough as a No. 3 quarterback and special-teams contributor to keep him on the 53-man roster and potentially activate him on game days, which would allow the offense to remain aggressive with the quarterback position even if something were to happen to Jackson. The mobile McSorley showed growth as a passer over the course of the spring, but he has work to do to lock down his roster spot.