Naturally, we spend the NFL draft's three-day weekend focusing on college football players entering the league. It's a time for rookies to shine as they achieve their childhood dreams and enter professional football. Getting to see where first-round picks such as Will Anderson Jr. and Bijan Robinson will begin their careers was both dramatic and exciting.
What we don't discuss much during draft weekend is the impact those new additions will have on players currently on NFL rosters. Outside of a quarterback getting new playmakers, we typically don't have many conversations about what an exciting rookie means for a team's veteran players. Some will have it easier because they have more help. Others will retain their opportunity because their team didn't draft a replacement. Some who were on the precipice of being released or traded will move on because their team found a new solution.
Let's take a step back from the draft and look at the veteran players whose situations were affected by draft decisions. Some are further entrenched than they were before; others might feel like they're standing on shakier ground.
I'll run through the veterans who might be considered winners and losers from the draft, starting with a quarterback who had a very exciting weekend:
Winner: Lamar Jackson, QB, Ravens
Jackson finally came to terms on the extension he and the Ravens had been battling over for the past two years. We're still waiting for the exact specifics of his five-year, $260 million deal, but it reportedly has $185 million in some form of guarantees and will surely have more than $100 million fully guaranteed at the time of signing. He is going to take home life-altering money, and after negotiating his own deal, he won't even need to give 3% to an agent.
On top of that, the Ravens further signaled their commitment to a more balanced offense by using the No. 22 overall pick on wideout Zay Flowers. In Jackson's final game before getting injured in 2022, his top three wide receivers in terms of snaps were Demarcus Robinson, Devin Duvernay and DeSean Jackson. Now, if everyone stays healthy, his Week 1 wideouts will include three former first-round picks: Flowers, Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr.
The Ravens have also replaced run-first offensive coordinator Greg Roman with former Georgia playcaller Todd Monken, making him one of the few Georgia products to join the NFL this offseason without becoming a member of the Eagles. The pressure will be on Jackson to deliver as a passer, but with the contract complete, there won't be the same off-field stressors for the league's highest-paid player.