It was pretty much a foregone conclusion, but Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has officially declared for the 2018 NFL Draft.
The quarterback class for the 2018 NFL Draft got inevitably deeper earlier this week, with Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen declaring their intentions essentially one right after the other. 2016 Heisman Trophy Winner Lamar Jackson hinted strongly he would go pro before Louisville’s bowl game, and on Friday he took to Twitter to make it official.
Jackson followed up his Heisman campaign with comparable production on his way to being a finalist for the award this year. He passed for more yards (3,660 vs. 3,543), accounted for 45 total touchdowns (compared to 51 total touchdowns in 2016) and had a comparable yards per attempt (8.5 vs. 8.7) with a better completion percentage (59.1 vs. 56.2).
Some draft evaluators doubt Jackson’s ability to play quarterback at the next level, while others see him as a potential first-round pick and able to play the position at a high level. It’s easy to see 32 NFL teams having 32 different evaluations of Jackson, and some may see an Antwaan Randle El-type or foresee a full transition to wide receiver like Terrelle Pryor eventually made. Coaching and perceived system fit heading toward the draft will go a long way toward Jackson’s place on the quarterback or wide receiver spectrum for each team.
Jackson is in line to be among the first handful or so of quarterbacks drafted in April, behind Darnold, Rosen, Josh Allen, 2017 Heisman winner Baker Mayfield and possibly Mason Rudolph. The comparisons to Michael Vick are almost too obvious, but Jackson has run an offense with some pro-style elements under Bobby Petrino at Louisville to go along with his game-changing running ability. The right coaches in the NFL can definitely help keep his progress as a passer going, and Jackson has immense upside until further notice.