Devy Watch: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

Along with Louisville, Nebraska, Florida, and Mississippi State all had visits from the 3 star (ESPN and 247) Lamar Jackson. Oh boy, they must be thinking back to how they could have made sure they landed him. Instead, he’s tearing the college football world to shreds in Louisville playing for the Cardinals, and he doesn’t look like he is going to slow down after winning the Heisman in 2016. Perhaps the most talked about and hyped player in all the NCAA, Jackson may just be the most dominant quarterback since Tim Tebow’s time with the Gators, and he is only entering his junior season. As a freshman in 2015, Jackson put up fairly modest stats (1,840 yards, 12 TDs) as he made eight starts and appeared in all 12 of Louisville’s games. And then the 2016 year happened. In the first half of the first game of the year, Jackson had already accumulated eight total touchdowns, and from there he never looked back. I think we all know that college success doesn’t always translate to NFL success, I mean look at Tebow whom you can argue was the best college football player of all time; his NFL career, although exciting, was pretty underwhelming for a first round pick. So let’s dive into Lamar Jackson the prospect, and go over each of his strengths and weaknesses. I’ll take you through his NFL Draft stock for those of you already looking that far ahead.

Strengths

Mobility: Surprised? Probably not. It’s an integral skillset in Jackson’s game; it’s his calling card and elite trait. His speed blew me away time and time again on tape; this is what makes him so electrifying. I’ll put it this way for you; I gave Jackson a 9.75 score for mobility, and I’ve never given any prospect a 10 for any skill. Here’s the concerning part, combine how he runs with his 6’3” 205-pound frame, and he’s bound to face some injury problems at some point. As elusive as he is, NFL linebackers and linemen rarely miss, I mean just look at what has happened with Robert Griffin the Third. He got off to a nice start but has been riddled with injuries for the bulk of his career.

Decision Making: I knew going in that Jackson was gonna be mobile, what I didn’t know was how impressive his creativity and overall football IQ would be. He makes a lot of plays that may not jump out at you as “highlight reel” plays, but are much better than simply taking a sack or throwing it out of bounds. I don’t like how long he holds on to the ball sometimes, or how he will occasionally throw into double coverage deep, but all in all I was very happy with his decision making.

Pocket Presence: Let me start off by saying his “pocket presence” skill is unconventional. Jackson takes a lot of sacks and rarely steps into throws under pressure. However, his ability to escape while the pocket is collapsing in on him is superb. His elusiveness is just another reason he dominates college football, defenders just cannot seem to get a solid hit on him.

Weaknesses

Mechanics: Does Jackson show potential here? Sure, but his mechanics are wildly inconsistent and can sometimes be pretty awkward. I certainly wouldn’t call his throwing motion “fluid,” but to be fair, I gotta say it works for him. To take the next step Jackson has to clean up his consistency in terms of both release and fluidity.

Footwork: More inconsistency here for Jackson, I would really like to see him set his feet before he throws. Too often he is caught throwing off of his back foot which leads to fairly poor arm strength on a lot of throws. Another thing with Jackson and his footwork is his habit of standing still in the pocket when he is reading the defense, that’s a no-no. Watch Aaron Rodgers, and you see a nearly perfect example of almost “gliding” around in the pocket always ready to set his feet for a throw. I’m not saying he needs to get to Rodgers’ level, but he needs to learn to keep his feet moving.

Deep Accuracy: This is what an inconsistent release and “back foot” throws will get you. Jackson’s deep accuracy struggles are certainly not uncommon, but that doesn’t mean you should just ignore them. If he can become better here, he may just put defenses in quite a quandary. For now, they don’t need to worry about him stretching the field vertically too much.

Summary

A prospect who should be the center point of many NFL Draft debates, Jackson doesn’t come up short in athleticism or decision making. Unfortunately, it’s in the fundamentals, mechanics, and footwork where he struggles. I had a hard time grading him, but I finally came to the conclusion of giving him a 3rd/4th round grade. With much room to grow, I can’t wait to re-evaluate him before the draft comes.

Games Watched
Florida State  
Clemson 
Kentucky 

 

bylitalo

Bradley Ylitalo, Minneapolis MN. Bethel Football Student Coach. Scouting/Devy writer for the Dynasty Football Factory. Follow me on twitter @NFL_drafthub or find me on facebook: Bradley Ylitalo

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