Heisman winner has to switch to WR for a successful NFL career
THE SANTA CLARA
May 11, 2017
It seems inconceivable that the most dominant offensive player and reigning Heisman winner of college football would switch positions for the NFL, but Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson should do just that.
At this moment, Lamar Jackson’s passing accuracy is well below the standard for NFL quarterbacks. No current starting QB in the NFL who’s played a full season has a career completion percentage under 58 percent in the NFL. Jackson has only managed a completion percentage of just under 56 percent in college. He would not be able to rely on his arm to move the chains consistently in the NFL.
Furthermore, Jackson’s improvement as a passer may be overstated as half of his 30 passing touchdowns this past year came against poor Conference USA competition—Marshall and Charlotte—and the worst team in the ACC, Virginia (2-10).
In Louisville’s final game, Jackson and the Cardinal offense faced their biggest test against a very talented LSU defense in the Citrus Bowl. Jackson failed the test and was exposed—completing only 37 percent of his passes and rushing for 33 yards on 26 attempts in a blowout. After playing the whole year in an over-simplified offense, Jackson’s ability to read defenses at the next level is very suspect.
When analyzing fellow conference quarterback Deshaun Watson, one anonymous ACC coach was quoted in a Sports Illustrated article as saying, “We played he and Lamar Jackson, and Jackson has no shot at playing quarterback in the NFL. None. He can’t make the throws and can’t read coverages.”
Jackson has the necessary arm strength, but scouts are concerned that his size won’t translate to the NFL. “When you look at his body composition, the first thing you notice is his frame. He’s skinny, very skinny. You worry that if he can’t bulk up he will have a hard time absorbing some hits when he gets to the next level,” said one NFL scout speaking to Sports Illustrated last December. The average weight of a QB in the NFL is just under 225 pounds and Jackson is very noticeably undersized at 205 pounds.
All that being said, Jackson has the chance to be a true weapon in the NFL as a wide receiver. He can run a 40-yard dash in the 4.4-4.5 range and is an absolute nightmare to tackle in the open field. He is electric as a ball carrier—rushing for over 2,500 yards and 32 touchdowns in his two college seasons. One NFL scout said, “He runs with the forward lean, elusiveness and the speed of a slashing running back.”
The QB switch to wide receiver has turned into a very successful and lucrative switch for current NFL players, such as Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller and Julian Edelman, who played QB at Kent State. Jackson could certainly reach and surpass the level of those players with his game changing speed.
Jackson’s agility would be well-suited for route running and he could be a home run threat every time he touched the ball. If Jackson focused his efforts on playing wide receiver in the pros, he could truly become an asset for an NFL franchise.
Contact Ben Epstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852