Sunday, August 7, 2022

Lamar Jackson compares Raven’s rookie to All-Pro

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Lamar Jackson knows how important Mark Andrews is to the Baltimore Ravens offense. The all-pro tight end is Jackson’s favorite receiver, and the Ravens don’t have another member of the passing game who can amass catches, yards and touchdowns in the same way.

At least not until now. Jackson sees welcome similarities between Andrews and a member of this year’s draft class.

The fourth-round pick plays the same position as Andrews and caught the eye in training camp. Jackson was impressed enough to compare this newcomer to his favorite target.

Isaiah Likely played enough games in the first few days of training camp to get plenty of praise from his quarterback. Jackson called Coastal Carolina’s fascinating product “a baby Mark (Andrews),” per Jeff Zrebiec from the athlete:

That’s high praise indeed given how quickly Andrews has become one of the NFL’s elite tight ends. The 26-year-old had 107 catches for 1,361 yards last season.

Those career highs came despite Jackson missing five games with an ankle injury. Andrews and the rest of Baltimore’s receivers also enjoyed little support from a quick attack that was bogged down by season-ending injuries to running backs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards.

Their absence, combined with the lack of a true No. 1 wide receiver, placed the burden on Andrews to carry the offense. It was a bar he had come across and cleared with vacant space.

There are no signs his connection with Jackson is weakening based on the early action at camp, per ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:

That same source noted how Jackson “completed 18 of 25 (72%) passes that included a few drops. There have been many deals for Mark Andrews, which is not surprising.”

While Jackson and Andrews’ partnership remains productive, it would be prudent for the Ravens to reduce their reliance on No. 89 this season. The defense is sure to ally against Andrews throughout 2022, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to be wary of passing play becoming predictable.

This is where Likely, who joins Charlie Kolar, one of six players picked into the fourth round, can jump into the fray and make an instant impact.

Jackson’s description of Likely as “like a WR, but the body of a tight end” is telling. It doesn’t just sum up the movement skills and quickness of the 6’4″, 245-pounder. It also hints at why Likely should be an instant hit as a beginner.

His ability to set up and act like a wide receiver will mask weaknesses in a problem position for the Ravens. Sammy Watkins, who joins the Green Bay Packers in free agency, followed by Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown, who is traded to the Arizona Cardinals on draft day, left the closet empty at wideout.

Sophomore Rashod Bateman leads an experienced group that includes Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace. Neither of those names will give defensive coordinators sleepless nights this season, but likely is another story.

He can be a size difference against cornerbacks and too fast for linebackers and safeties to stay in man coverage. Jackson tested Likely’s vertical speed Highlight worthy game in stock:

Insights into his talent like that have earned the drafted 139th overall praise from Andrews, who sees the same things Jackson sees, according to team staffer Clifton Brown: “He’s really fluid. If he sees something open, he takes it. He definitely has a little bit of me in him.”

If Likely comes anywhere close to what Andrews has already achieved, the Ravens will have a versatile weapon capable of adding a whole new level of threat to their aerial attack.

Insights into his talent like that have earned the drafted 139th overall praise from Andrews, who sees the same things Jackson sees, according to team staffer Clifton Brown: “He’s really fluid. If he sees something open, he takes it. He definitely has a little bit of me in him.”



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