Ravens GM: Jackson's status doesn't affect draft prep

FILE - Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) leaves the field after the end of the first half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. Lamar Jackson said Monday, March 27, 2023, he has requested a trade from the Ravens. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta said Lamar Jackson's situation isn't causing the Ravens to look at quarterbacks differently in the upcoming draft, although he did say the team could conceivably take one in the first round.

DeCosta, coach John Harbaugh and director of player personnel Joe Hortiz hosted a pre-draft news conference Wednesday, and reporters were told to keep questions focused on the draft. Of course, Jackson's status affects all aspects of the team's future, and if he's not a part of it, then Baltimore would need a quarterback.

“It just depends on the board,” DeCosta said when asked if taking a quarterback in the first round is a consideration. “I guess I'd have to say yes because we have quarterbacks in our top 31. So just based on that alone, simple math, I would have to say yes.”

As of now, the Ravens have the 22nd pick in the first round.

The Ravens put the franchise tag on Jackson last month, so if he were to reach an agreement with another team and Baltimore decided not to match it, the Ravens could receive two first-round picks in return. Jackson also announced recently that he'd requested a trade, and DeCosta wouldn't comment Wednesday on the ramifications of that.

“I understand those questions," he said. "I think we’ve spoken about this situation probably five different times this spring, in various different press conferences and stuff, so we’re going to try to just kind of defer to those questions and move forward to the draft.”

DeCosta said Jackson’s situation isn’t causing the team to look at quarterbacks differently than usual.

“I don’t think we really are,” DeCosta said. “We go into every draft trying to take any kind of bias out, any kind of need-based situation out of the draft equation. We really do try to build a board that’s really best player available, and that process involves really nine months, starting in early August.”

Of course, if Jackson were traded or signed with another team, that could add to Baltimore's meager total of five picks in this month's draft, but if DeCosta is hoping for a resolution on Jackson's status before the draft, he wasn't saying.

“I think the things that we can control are really getting the list, the draft board set, evaluating players as best as possible," he said.

Alabama's Bryce Young, Ohio State's CJ Stroud, Kentucky's Will Levis and Florida's Anthony Richardson are the quarterbacks getting the most attention in the leadup to the draft. Richardson was impressive at the combine, and his running ability makes him an interesting option as a potential replacement for Jackson.

“Richardson's got just raw physical talent, strong arm, athletic, big, physical,” Hortiz said. “Probably the least experienced of the four of them, but has a chance to really blossom and develop.”

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Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister

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