Lamar Jackson was a one man highlight reel in Louisville last year. After getting out to a 4-0 start and averaging over 60 points a game on offense he jumped out in front of the LSU running back Leonard Fournette and the rest of the Heisman field and never looked back. The Cardinals struggled down the stretch losing their last two games but his 3,390 yards and 30 touchdowns passing combined with 21 rushing TDs put Jackson on another level and he clearly was the best player in college football last year.
NFL GMs are salivating at the thought of having Jackson under center for their team but unfortunately has a sophomore he has to come back for one more year before he can declare for the NFL Draft. He could sit out and not risk getting hurt but with Bobby Petrino back at the helm in Louisville Jackson has a shot to lead the Cardinals to the College Football Playoff and even more post-season accolades.
Louisville will have to make it through the ACC schedule and as long as they don’t lose more than one game the Cardinals should be in the top 5 all year. Louisville will still have to play Clemson but fortunately for them DeShaun Watson and Mike Williams will be in the NFL and in rebuilding mode. Florida State on the road should be a tough game but this year the Seminoles weren’t an elite team and it should be a game Louisville should win. If they can survive those two games and two more road trips to Kentucky and North Carolina Lamar Jackson could be on his way to the playoffs and another Heisman Trophy.
There are some knocks on Jackson and he will have another year to get to the next level and shut up the naysayers. Some NFL scouts worry about his size. At 6’3 Jackson is pretty tall but he lacks the weight to match his frame if he wants to have success in the NFL. Jackson weighs around 200 pounds and he will need to add some muscle and weight if he wants to make it in the league. We’ve seen guys similar to him like Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III have success but we’ve also seen them get injured. Scrambling QBs in the NFL don’t seem to last very long unless they change their style. Steve McNair started out as a scrambling QB and evolved into a pocket passer after getting hurt all the time.
After RGIII flamed out in Washington a few years ago Jackson could slide a little in the draft but it only takes one GM to fall in love with him at the Combine to pick him early or trade up to get him. We saw last year that Los Angeles had no problem mortgaging their future to trade up for a QB.
I could see Buffalo or Chicago being good fits for Jackson. Tyrod Taylor is a poor man’s Lamar Jackson and he went to the Pro Bowl last year despite the front office not being behind him 100%. Jay Cutler will likely be on his way out of Chicago this year or next year after having little success (and a terrible offensive line) during his stay in the Windy City. Jackson would be a hit in a big market like Chicago and if they can protect him the Bears could be set up to contend for the NFC North for years to come.
A lot still has to play out and hopefully Jackson can stay healthy enough to get the payday that a top ten draft pick deserves. Unfortunately he has to wait until the 2018 NFL Draft to cash in.