The impact may not be immediate, but by drafting perhaps the draft’s two most exciting quarterbacks in the first round, the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens may have forever changed the landscape of the AFC North.
Both Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson are extremely talented passers with the ability to extend plays with their athletic ability. If these two quarterbacks develop into what they can be, defenses in the division will be need to be rebuilt around stopping them.
Playing quarterback in the NFL is not all about a player’s arm talent or ability to read a defense. Intangibles play a huge role. Baker Mayfield is incredible in this area. He is a winner and a vocal leader, two things that are desperately needed in Cleveland. He has the edge and presence to change the culture in Cleveland.
Mayfield knows how to work his way up from the bottom. He went from walk-on to starter. He has a big arm, makes good decisions, and has an incredible ability to create.
Lamar Jackson is so much more than what he is often made out to be. True, he is a dynamic athlete who can make plays with his legs, but often he uses his athleticism to give himself an opportunity to make a play with his arm. He has impressive arm strength and a quick release.
And contrary to popular belief, he played in a complex college offense that has likely prepared him more mentally for the NFL than most other prospects. He often has his feet too tight when he throws, which can negatively impact his accuracy.
Fortunately in Baltimore, there will be no pressure for him to play immediately. Jackson can take some time to improve his technique, and the Ravens can uses that time to add more offensive talent to put around him. This is an ideal situation for Jackson whose ability to read a defense and arm strength could make him an excellent NFL starter.
Preparing for the Future
In order to be ready for the coming of these two potentially franchise-changing quarterbacks, the Bengals must focus on getting faster on defense. It will be necessary to have strong and long edge rushers who can keep these two contained in the pocket. Having a linebacker with the ability to effectively mirror these two stellar athletes will also be important.
Finally, as both Mayfield and Jackson have the ability to extend plays, the Bengals will need to make sure they have the right players in the secondary. Defensive backs will need to be able to stay with receivers longer than usual, so they will need to have the endurance to do so.