NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah would like a do-over on ranking Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson as an NFL prospect.

“I wish I could go back and have a higher grade on Lamar,” Jeremiah said Wednesday. “I think he was my 32nd player.”

In his final draft rankings, Jeremiah actually had Jackson at 39th, seven below where the Ravens picked him after trading up with the Philadelphia Eagles for the final pick of the first round.

While Jeremiah didn’t have him ranked the highest out of insiders and draft sites (Mel Kiper had Jackson at 15th and PFF had him at 19th), he was one of the closest to predict where Jackson would go. But none – including those who ranked him highest – predicted what Jackson would one day become: a two-time NFL MVP, one vote short of being the first two-time unanimous MVP.

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“Obviously, would anybody say we made a bad decision when we drafted him back in 2018?” coach John Harbaugh said at the 2024 NFL Combine. “But at the time, there were a lot of people saying that.”

NFL draft analysts weren’t the first to evaluate Jackson wrong. Two of the nation’s biggest outlets for evaluating prospects, and 247Sports, ranked Jackson three stars out of five coming out of high school. ranked him higher but still didn’t give him a coveted five-star rating. And then Jackson went on to win the Heisman as a sophomore and finish third in Heisman voting as a junior.

Quarterback evaluations are hard, though, as recent history proves.

While it might be unfair to judge after one season, Bryce Young, last year’s No. 1 pick, did not have an immediate positive impact for the Carolina Panthers. Only three quarterbacks were selected in the first round, and CJ Stroud, whom the Houston Texans picked at No. 2, was the only one to impress from the start.

In 2022, only one quarterback was picked in the first round: Kenny Pickett. Two seasons later, he has lost his starting job, and the Steelers signed a veteran quarterback in Russell Wilson while also adding Justin Fields.

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Speaking of Fields – he was the 11th pick in the 2021 draft. Out of the four who went in the first round, Trevor Lawrence is the only one who has a steady job – and even he has some questions surrounding his ability to be a franchise quarterback.

Go back to Jackson’s draft in 2018. Teams picking quarterbacks fared only slightly better. Josh Allen is a three-time Pro Bowl selection. Baker Mayfield was selected first overall, but he has struggled to reach greatness. Sam Darnold is a backup, and Josh Rosen has played in just 24 games.

All were picked ahead of Jackson, yet none have won an MVP, much less two. The quarterback crystal ball is murky, but Jackson faced something those other quarterbacks didn’t: He had to defend his choice of position.

In March 2018, Jackson took the podium at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and stated, “I’m strictly a quarterback.”

A blatantly obvious statement, one would think, considering he was wearing his Combine-provided gear with large letters saying “QB” on it. Even stranger, considering he had won the the highest award in college football for his performance at quarterback.

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Yet Jackson felt the need to put his foot down after an NFL report that teams were working him out at wide receiver (that he denied) led to questions about his willingness to change positions. He had faced similar questions when he was being recruited by colleges.

Perhaps, then, his draft rankings were skewed by bias, the belief that he was forcing a career in a position outside the one he was best suited for.

To be fair, Jackson plays the game unlike anyone else. He has some of Patrick Mahomes’ crazy arm angles as well as Allen’s legs and ability to go off script. But Jackson moves and thinks differently, creating a style that probably raised many NFL executives’ eyebrows.

When Jackson was successful, he made highlight reels, but when he failed, the mistakes were ugly, Jeremiah recalled.

“You’d be like, ‘Golly, that was awful,’ ” Jeremiah said. “I think that people made more of the few bad plays than they should have in that evaluation.”

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That is one lesson that has been learned by teams across the NFL, Jeremiah said – look at a mistake as a mistake and don’t add weight for ugliness.

One of the other lessons? “First of all, don’t ever pass up that rare of a dynamic player,” Jeremiah said. ESPN’s Mike Tannebaum added that Jackson is an important reminder that talent only sets the floor – he recalls Jackson’s work ethic was clear when he visited with the Miami Dolphins, and that work ethic is what has led to his success.

Jackson and the Ravens have also set the tone for another important change in how teams are looking at quarterback prospects. Jeremiah recalled that six years ago, his main worry about Jackson’s chance for success was that he’d end up in a team or a system that didn’t put him in spots to succeed. But the Ravens didn’t force Jackson into a system that wasn’t right for him, Jeremiah said. They recognized he was different than Joe Flacco, who comes from the now old-school prototype, and focused on finding what fit Jackson instead of fitting Jackson into what they already had.

“Sometimes we get carried away with ‘How does this guy walk in and fit the current offense that exists?’ versus ‘How do we build around the most talented player?’ ” Jeremiah said. “I don’t think you want to bypass talent too often, especially at that position, so how do you cater towards them? … I would say probably over 10 years now where you’ve seen teams be a little bit more flexible in terms of incorporating what these guys do well in the college game.”

“I think there’s more attention being paid now to maybe more so the environment than the actual quarterback and knowing how to set the table for when you do take the quarterback, that he can be successful,” Jeremiah said.

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Jackson’s success changed the way the game is played at the NFL level, too. Tannebaum said Jackson is one of the most notable players in the trend of putting a premium on athleticism, which many say started with Wilson, who was drafted in the third round in 2012. Mahomes and Allen are other examples.

“We’ve expanded our view of what a quarterback is. It’s most obvious with Lamar,” said Harbaugh. “I think if you go back and look at football in 2015-17 or before that, there’s pretty much a model for that position. That model has definitely expanded tremendously. I would like to say we were a little ahead of the curve on that, but even we’re learning as we go when you watch guys play.”

Jackson’s impact can be seen in mock drafts this year. Jayden Daniels is projected to go high in the first round, potentially the second pick. An anonymous front office source told Adam Schefter Daniels is “Lamar 2.0.” That’s a huge jump from where Jackson was picked at 32.

So if Jackson’s helped change the game and the evaluation process, how would he have been ranked differently if he came through the draft now?

Well, former general manager turned media analyst Mark Dominik said his evaluation probably wouldn’t be that much different. Because Jackson grew into his greatness, and a lot of the questions he had then are the same he would have in this new era of football.

“With Lamar, when he was coming out … the big question, was like ‘Is every time it’s going to get dicey, is he going to just tuck the ball and run instead of like, I’m going to make that throw?’ ” Dominik said.

But Dominik did say he thinks Jackson would easily be a first-rounder, despite the talented quarterbacks in this class. That’s a pretty good jump, considering Jackson probably wouldn’t have gone in the first round if the Ravens hadn’t traded up for him.

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