Skipping a non-playoff bowl game has become a thing for NFL draft prospects, and Lamar Jackson essentially confirmed his intentions by addressing the topic.
Last year, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey notably skipped their bowl games to better focus on preparing for the NFL draft. That budding trend has continued already this year, with a few guys declaring for the draft while also announcing they won’t be playing in a bowl. Clearly, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith’s Fiesta Bowl knee injury nearly two years ago is still fresh on the mind of draft prospects.
previous Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson will be back in New York on Saturday as a finalist for this year’s award. He’s had a better season by a lot of measures, including completion percentage (60.4 percent), passer rating (151.5) and yards per attempt (8.74). But Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield is the prohibitive favorite this time around.
Louisville will play Mississippi State in the Tax Slayer Bowl on Dec. 30. When asked about possibly skipping the game, according to the Louisville Courier Journal, Jackson was having none of it.
“I can’t wait to play,” Jackson said. “December 30th.” “I never heard about anyone not playing. That’s their decision, I can’t speak for those guys. I’m playing in it.”
If people try to tell him to skip the bowl game?
“I won’t listen to ’em,” Jackson said.
Jackson did say he won’t make a decision on his future until after the bowl game, and there will be input from his family and coaches. He went further to say he’s not sure if he’ll stay in school or declare for the draft, and has not yet submitted paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board for an evaluation. But by addressing a question about skipping Louisville’s bowl game, he has strongly hinted he will skip his final collegiate season.
A lot of draft pundits have been quick to doubt Jackson’s traditional quarterback skills, coupling that with an assumption he’ll have to change positions at the next level. He may be a first-round pick though, and if an evaluation comes back suggesting that’s the case, it’ll be a no-brainer to declare for the draft. Assuming that decision has not already been made, despite Jackson’s public deflection of it.