Last Updated: 2018-01-05
The 2018 quarterback draft class is getting clearer by the day. As a result, the 2018 NFL Draft should be the most compelling draft in years. On Friday, Lamar Jackson declared for the NFL draft, ending his Louisville Cardinals’ career after three seasons.
Jackson is a Heisman winner. He is a two-time ACC player of the year. He is also an All-American quarterback. However, there were questions if the junior quarterback would come back for one final season with the Cardinals. For one, there are plenty of pundits questioning his ability to play quarterback at the next level. Fortunately, for ACC defenders, that didn’t stop Jackson from making the leap.
During his three seasons with the Cardinals, Jackson accounted for 9,043 passing yards on 619-of-1086 passing. He also threw 69 touchdown passes and 27 interceptions in 36 games. However, Jackson only completed 57 percent of his pass attempts during his career. Keep in mind, his completion percentage increased every season. Jackson also threw the ball down field quite often. He averaged 14.6 yards per completion with Louisville. He finished the 2017 season with a 59 completion percentage rate. Furthermore, Jackson increased his completion percentage every season.
With another year, he would have been the most decorated college quarterback ever. Instead, Jackson is entering the NFL Draft on a down note. He threw four interceptions in the Bowl game loss to give him 10 for the season. Otherwise, Jackson would have taken care of the ball better than he ever has.
In addition to ball security, Jackson may have been the most electrifying runner in college football the past two seasons. He scored 50 rushing touchdowns in a Cardinals’ uniform. Jackson also gained 4,132 yards, while averaging 6.3 yards per carry. If he gained 40 more yards during his freshman season, Jackson would have had three 1,000-yard seasons.
If there is a downside to Jackson’s tenure with the Cardinals, it’s the lack of wins. The Cardinals were only (24-14) in Jackson’s three seasons. However, it’s the three consecutive losses in 2016 that really was a downer for the program. Remember, the Cardinals were (9-1) when they were done with ACC play in 2016. They lost their final two games to Houston and Kentucky. Looking back, the Cardinals would have gone to the College Football Playoff if their only defeat was a six-point loss to Clemson.
Jackson could be making a big mistake by leaving early. If NFL teams aren’t interested in drafting him, he could fall to the third day of the draft. More importantly, Jackson must be a viable option at quarterback. He can’t afford to be lost in the mix this summer. Moreover, Jackson could have produced a Baker Mayfield type year in his senior season. Mayfield has gone from a marginal draft prospect to a potential first round pick.
In all, there will be a lot of unanswered questions as the draft process starts next week.
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