2018 NFL Draft Preview: Lamar Jackson

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and a polarizing NFL Draft prospect, but one that should be a talking point when discussing 2018’s top passers. Jackson operates in Bobby Petrino’s offense that features layered progressions and full-field reads despite what many detractors will attempt to tell you, and he’s become adept at running the system with optimal efficiency.

Jackson’s kinetic sequencing are eerily similar to what makes Aaron Rodgers arguably the NFL’s top quarterback, while his natural arm talent, explosive athleticism and throwing motion and quick-twitch fibers have birthed Michael Vick comparisons that are completely feasible. He’s a smooth thrower with the ability to drive his hips through the release point, allowing the ball to jump out of his hand and creating the ideal velocity on intermediate throws. In the pocket, Jackson maneuvers with keen awareness that propels him to find space and throw from more favorable spots with the ability to remain patient when working through his progressions.

While talented, Jackson has yet to master the art of surviving as a change-of-pace passer and regulate mechanical flaws such as a low release point that often serves as a catalyst for deep throws sailing on him and the locking of the lead leg that tampers with his transfer of momentum and eventually leads to sporadic placement. Said placement was the crux of his lowly 56 percent completion rating and there are further mechanical issues that need minor tweaking, but it should be noted that he played with a consistently discouraging receiving corp and an abysmal line that was consistently defeated by late blitzes and free rushers, forcing him into many throwaways.

There is absolutely no question that Jackson has an NFL skill set and potential for a first round grade¬†with a blend of cerebral approach and physical talent that, thus far, has been unmatched. Although they’re not the same player, he and Patrick Mahomes share the premise that their athletic capabilities can compensate for their mechanical struggles, further supporting the notion that Jackson should hear his name called on Day One.

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