Former Baltimore Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome had a specific idea in mind when he traded back into the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft to select quarterback Lamar Jackson. The plan all started when he signed the former No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III.
Griffin has been through a similar situation, as Jackson is getting ready to face.
Once hailed as the present and future of the Washington Redskins, Griffin thrilled the fans at FedEx Field by making a series of dynamic plays. The once-boring offense came alive with Griffin under center. Now he is in place to help another young, explosive playmaking quarterback in Jackson.
Another similarity they share is the challenge of being a black quarterback in the NFL.
“Is it different being an African-American quarterback in the NFL?” Griffin told Sports Illustrated. "Yes, it's different. But you can't look at it as a burden. You can't look at it as something that is going to hold you back. It's a challenge.
“You have to accept the challenge and move forward with it. Anytime you are athletic enough at the quarterback position and have similar traits to a wide receiver or running back, it's going to be talked about. You have to eliminate that noise and understand that, because I have that ability, I am going to be even greater.”
Although Griffin is working to get his own career back on track, he understands the importance of being a mentor to Jackson. Griffin says he wants to nurture Jackson, so he is ready when it's time to 'leave the nest.'
Jackson will eventually take over for starting quarterback Joe Flacco and when he does, it will be Griffin on the sideline waiting for him with pointers.
However, the nest that the Ravens have in place in Baltimore extends beyond just Griffin as the backup.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and offensive assistant Greg Roman are experienced when it comes to working with dual-threat quarterbacks. Mornhinweg coached Michael Vick with the Philadelphia Eagles while Roman coached Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. They know how to maximize the play-making ability that Jackson brings to the table. Jackson will be brought along gradually as he transitions to the NFL.
The weapons put in place around Jackson will help him as well.
Quarterbacks tend to favor their tight ends because they work the middle of the field, mostly between the hash marks. Throws to tight ends tend to be more high-percentage passes, which help quarterbacks settle into a rhythm.
With that in mind, Newsome and the Ravens selected South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst in the first round (No. 25 overall) before Jackson at No. 32. They also added Oklahoma tight end Mark Andrews with the second of their two, third-round picks.
Both tight ends are outstanding receiving options. They'll get to grow with Jackson for years to come.
The mentor, the weapons, and the coaches are all in place for Jackson to succeed— it should be a bright future for the Heisman Trophy winner.