Take Two: Measuring Lamar Jackson's NFL stock
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
The 2018 NFL Draft will be loaded with talented pro-style quarterbacks and the debate will continue through this season whether USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen or even Wyoming’s Josh Allen should be the first quarterback taken.
It will be a worthy and heated debate. But one name that probably won’t be mentioned as high is the Heisman Trophy winner and the guy who has absolutely dominated the first two weeks of college football – Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.
The Cardinals quarterback has completed more than 64 percent of his passes for 771 yards and five touchdowns, and leads Louisville in rushing as well with 239 yards and three rushing scores.
In a 47-35 win over North Carolina on Saturday, Jackson had arguably the best performance of any player early this season when he accounted for 525 total yards and six touchdowns in Louisville’s second win.
He’s amazing. So why isn’t he being considered as perhaps the top quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft class?
It’s because a lot of his playmaking comes from being a dual-threat quarterback, something NFL teams might avoid. Quarterbacks are too valuable and too fragile to risk getting hit over and over again in the pros.
But is Jackson possibly a once-in-a-generation kind of talent who should be considered among the top picks, especially by a team in need of a dynamic playmaker at quarterback? Or will NFL teams continue to follow the rulebook and take Darnold, Rosen or Allen earlier – all talented quarterbacks – but perhaps not as special as Jackson?
FIRST TAKE: HOWIE LINDSEY, CARDINALSPORTS.COM
“Lamar Jackson is not the polished finished product that a Darnold or Rosen are, but his upside is much higher. His sophomore season he broke Mike Vick's ACC records and won the Heisman, accounting for a ridiculous 51 touchdowns. I had one of his receivers tell me that was Lamar 1.0, at 60 percent. This season, he's picking up blitzes, staying in the pocket, taking more snaps from under center and has a much better understanding of the offense.
"After Lamar had 525 yards of total offense at UNC Saturday, receiver Jaylen Smith said, 'This ain't Lamar 2.0, this is Lamar 5.0.' If he progressed this much over the spring and summer, how good is he going to be by bowl season? By the draft? In an NFL training camp? NFL execs are likely going to pick the finished products, the safe picks, but Jackson can be better than any of the others if he continues on his current trajectory.” - Lindsey
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
“Michael Vick went first overall and he was great with the Falcons but never really got anywhere. The big question you have when you look at a dual-threat quarterback like Cam Newton or Vick and taking them first overall is durability. Can they take the hits at the NFL level? We’re starting to see Newton already wear down. Vick’s career got derailed otherwise.
"I don’t know if Jackson could be the NFL passer that’s worth the No. 1 overall pick and I don’t know if he can take the pounding if you change your offense to gear to his strengths. Right now, the safer bet is the obvious guys we’re used to throwing from the pocket more often. Jackson could be one of those guys some team will take late in the first round and take a shot with.” - Farrell