At the pre-draft NFL scouting combine Lamar Jackson told reporters he had no intention of playing anything but quarterback in the NFL.
“I’m strictly a quarterback,” Jackson said. “Whoever likes me at quarterback, that’s where I’m going.”
Jackson made the statement amid discussion in some football circles that the athletic quarterback from Louisville would be better suited to play wide receiver in the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens drafted Jackson seemingly intent on grooming him to eventually replace Joe Flacco as the team’s franchise quarterback. They traded up for the last pick in the first round to do so. Head coach John Harbaugh raved about his “natural arm talent” after he was drafted.
Lamar Jackson, Joe Flacco practicing 2-quarterback offense
Now, at Ravens offseason practices, Jackson is lining up on the field at multiple positions with Joe Flacco under center, ESPN reports.
“Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”
Jackson is still getting most of his reps at quarterback, according to the report. But Flacco, for the time being, is still the team’s starting quarterback, and it appears that Harbaugh wants to find a way to make use of Jackson’s exceptional athleticism in the meantime.
Joe Flacco at wide receiver?
But it sounds like Flacco may be getting into the non-quarterback game too when Jackson’s on the field. Harbaugh alluded to the team experimenting with some misdirection looks that have Flacco handing the ball off to Jackson — who has blazing 4.34 40 speed — giving him the option to run with or throw the ball. If Jackson becomes a thrower in those situations, Flacco will have to expand his role.
“Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball,” Harbaugh said. “It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they’ve worked hard on that.”
From a schematic standpoint, it sounds like a fascinating option that could keep defenses off balance similar to the emergence of the wildcat formation and read-option in recent years. And it makes sense when you have one of the game’s best athletes to find creative ways to use him if he’s not going to be an every-down player.
New Ravens offense comes with risk
But there are certainly risks that would come with using Jackson like this. This scheme obviously opens Jackson up to a higher chance of injury, an obvious concern for the future franchise quarterback. And we haven’t heard from Jackson on how he feels after insisting that he was strictly an NFL quarterback.
But rarely have NFL teams won by playing it safe. Watching the evolution of the Ravens offense could end up being one of the league’s most interesting stories in the upcoming season.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Draymond is trolling LeBron — again — with his parade T-shirt
• LaVar Ball ‘knows’ LeBron is heading to the Lakers
• NFL player competing on ‘The Bachelorette’ injures wrist and bows out
• Antonio Brown vents frustrations in strange interview