Patriots-Ravens preview: Improved Lamar Jackson a huge challenge for Pats’ D

FOXBORO – Did the Patriots err in not drafting Lamar Jackson in 2018? Would they be better than they are right now both overall and at that position?

In a vacuum? Yes to both. Jackson’s a better player than Mac Jones right now. He was a better player in his second season when he was the league MVP than Jones will be in his second season. Jackson would have been better in 2020 than Cam Newton was.

Here’s how Lamar Jackson has fared vs. Patriots in his Ravens career

And when you look at the players the Patriots selected in 2018 while Jackson was still on the board – Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel – it’s impossible to argue that the two of them combined come close to being the impact player Jackson is. Beyond that, when you consider non-contributors the Patriots blew picks on in the first and second rounds – N’Keal Harry, JoeJuan Williams, Duke Dawson – how bad would a dice-roll on a supremely talented quarterback have been? Especially when Bill Belichick was verrrrrry dubious that Tom Brady would remain brilliant.

Outside the vacuum? Where context is included? It’s a lot less cut-and-dried. Jackson was going to be a project. He wasn’t going to contribute meaningfully right away and the Patriots had a finite amount of time to cash in on The Brady Window. A first-round pick on a player who’d be watching? Eh.

Meanwhile, the Patriots…

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