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In A Top Heavy QB Class Lamar Jackson Has A Lot To Learn But Also Doesn't Get His Due Credit

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2018 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

Syracuse v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Lamar Jackson, QB
School: Louisville | Conference: ACC
College Experience: Junior | Age: 21
Height / Weight: 6-3 / 211 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 1st Round
NFL Comparison: Marcus Mariota

College Statistics

Player Overview

Lamar Jackson burst onto the national scene in 2016 when he won both the Heisman and Maxwell trophies and broke school records after a stellar season. Simply put the Louisville offense has run through Jackson through the air and on the ground these past two seasons. Jackson is a somewhat polarizing prospect in this year’s QB class (who isn’t outside of the top two QBs?). Those who have caught his highlights have no doubt seen his playmaking ability. Those who have watched him play entire games have no doubt seen exponential growth this past season at the position. Jackson is a true dual-threat QB but he is not a run first QB. Jackson has a lot to work on but his issues reside in certain fundamentals, intermediate accuracy, and are not unlike the same weaknesses other top QBs in this class suffer from.

Louisville ran a spread system with heavy RPO concepts but they also incorporated a number of prostyle formations under center into the mix. Jackson no doubt would flourish in a system that would incorporate those concepts (or has them already) into a prostyle system to maximize his abilities (Jacksonville comes to mind). Jackson need not run the ball near the threshold Louisville did (he accounted for 47% of the rushing attempts on the team which were mostly designed runs) to be successful in the NFL. He must, however, become a more accurate passer on the move particularly in intermediate range. He must also show better judgment on when to lob one up for grabs and when to fire one in. Lastly and most importantly he must put aside his hero syndrome in certain situations and rely on his teammates to make plays.

Jackson has excellent arm strength, speed, elusiveness, and has a knack for making game-changing plays as well as a rare ability to take games over. He has made great strides with the Louisville coaches in refining his mechanics, going through his progressions While it is desirable for a franchise QB to have all of the above traits I can only imagine what Jackson might be capable of when presented with the opportunities of not having to do things all on his own and what he could accomplish working with a coach that uses his talents strategically.

Strengths

  • Elite athleticism and speed for the position. Not bad size either.
  • Arm strength that makes every throw on the field a possibility. When he sets his base in the pocket accuracy can be pinpoint particularly the deep ball. Shows ability to manipulate coverage in his favor through fakes, eyes, and movement.
  • Ability to extend the play and make good things happen when they should be over. Because of his dual-threat ability, he puts defenders in a bind in coverage and required a spy assignment a lot.
  • Most familiar with spread/RPO but ran a fair amount of plays under center as well.
  • Devastating if he sees the open field has the speed and elusiveness to do real damage and has better vision and cutting ability than some running backs in this class.
  • Exceptional production over the past two years on the ground and through the air.

Weaknesses

  • Though the numbers are on his side his musculature and proportions are not. Has a spindly build and while I’m sure he can put on weight I’m not sure it will alleviate concerns of those who don't care for how his body is built.
  • Accuracy goes in the can when he is on the move passes tend to sail.
  • Base and lower mechanics improvement can help with the above. Has a tight and narrow set up that should be more balanced.
  • Needs guidance and a better feel for when to be a hero and when not to be.

Let’s see his work:

More Lamar Jackson videos

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

We know that Jay Gruden wants a quarterback who can come in and execute his version of the west coast offense - an offense predicated on short to intermediate timing-based throws with some occasional deep shots taken. We also know Gruden likes his quarterbacks to have a reasonable level of athleticism to execute rollouts bootlegs maneuver in the pocket etc. We also know Gruden is willing to mix in RPOs into his offense. While I have no doubts Jackson could be successful with these concepts in such a system and use his skills to help the Redskins offense - even be transformative in his production - I do doubt Gruden's ability to change and mold his offense to quarterbacks outside the mold of the Dalton’s, Cousin’s, and now Smith’s - and that is his prerogative if accurate. Lamar Jackson is not those guys and at the present moment has a floor of Dalton and Smith and ceiling that is above all three of them - in my opinion. Jackson’s opportunities and skills would be better utilized by a team and coaching staff that is more flexible in their offensive concepts. I think the Jaguars, Chargers, or even the Seahawks could be a good destination for him. As we see year after year so much of a young quarterback’s success (for ‘old’ see Case Keenum) is tied to his environment based on the team he is selected by, his coaching staff, the team around him, and his opportunities. If Lamar Jackson ends up in the right situation he’ll be a multi time pro bowler.