Scouting Report: Lamar Jackson, take 2

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
NEPD Staff Contributor: Jeff Fidler

Update: Unfortunately, as many of you know we had some site issues last week and lost a few articles. I was able to recover a few of them, but some information (the videos and pictures) were lost. I thought this report was really well done though and deserved to be put back up even in its simplistic form because the information in it is still really good.

Now, you are probably wondering why is there only one player listed when it is
Two For Tuesday. Well, we decided to mix it up and do two scouting reports on
the same player. Jackson is one of the most polarizing players in this draft and
if you spend anytime on Twitter, you can find a heated discussion on him just
about anytime of day. Our very own Jeff has been in at least one of those
twitter battles and you will see his passion regarding Jackson in his writing
below. Now, before proof reading his report for this article, I had an idea of
where he stood on Jackson, but I did not read his report so I could keep my
report bias free. Here are the two reports, done by two different people, at two
different times, for Two For Tuesday. As an additional bonus, I have included a
link to a report done by Mark Schofield on Jackson that he put out last night.
If you are not aware of Mark’s work, he is the go to guy when it comes to
Quarterback play. He is also the host of the the Locked on Patriots podcast,
which is a must listen for any Patriot fan. The link is at the end of the
report.

Jeff’s Report:
A few months ago I threw out the idea that Lamar Jackson would be
a hell of a reason to entice Josh McDaniels to stay. Not only would he be Bill’s
successor but he’d have QB that epitomizes today’s spread/r.p.o. offensive game. 
Waiting, watching, training, absorbing. And with the recent events over the past
few weeks & months this went from a fun idea to throw out there, to a
possibility. Albeit a small one.
Assuming the obvious for a moment. Josh, Bill, Kraft all met, talked over the
past week & hammered out a real succession plan for a Post-Bill Belichick
Patriots. I’m reading between the lines here but it sounds like Bill will
retire, move on from New England within a few (2-3) years & Josh will take
over. Now Brady could still be playing but the end will be visible by then.
Enter one of the most the exciting, dynamic young Quarterbacks to come out of
college in the last 20 years, Lamar Jackson. And yes he’s absolutely a
Quarterback. Let’s dismiss that nonsense from the start.
Jackson, from Pompano Beach, Florida. Has been preparing for this challenge
since 6 years old. And I mean that in every sense of the word. Jackson’s mother
Felicia Jones got him working with a trainer from age 6-high school. She saw,
even at a young age. Jackson was a special talent. And has helped him every step
of way as much as she could. She did so quietly, keeping the focus on Lamar.
That doesn’t mean everything has been easy for him. Quite the contrary, people
have been doubting him the entire time.
Jackson played QB high school for 2 years. Throwing for 22 TD s & rushing 
for 31. He had plenty of offers of college but some wanted him to change
positions. Some didn’t guarantee he d start in the future. Most weren’t all in 
on Jackson. After showcasing his arm in highlight tapes for college, Jackson’s
familiarity w/ the pistol, a fellow Floridian in Lamar Thomas introducing
Petrino to Jackson. Lamar ended up deciding on Louisville. He struggled at
first. He wasn’t comfortable under center. The playbook was like a different
language. A lot of people in the area & familiar w/ Perinos offense doubted
him picking up the system. He was 18, just started playing the position 2 years
prior & a long away from home. What did he do?
He studied opponents tendencies, his own flaws on film. He used virtual
technology to help decipher coverages. Coaches forced him to stay in the pocket
& blew the play dead when/if he tried to run in practice. He developed
relationships w/ teammates, impressed coaches, took his weaknesses head on. The
results have been a tremendous success at Louisville.
Jackson is only 21 & has some obvious flaws he has to correct. That said if
this player gets w/ a good coaching staff that gives him the proper development
he deserves the results on his NFL career could be staggering. And I would argue
there’s no better place to land than right here in New England. McDaniels would
have his muse to mold & train. Jackson could sit and learn behind Brady in
his final years. Imagine a 24-25 y/o Jackson with an extra 10-12 lbs of muscle
on his frame at 6 3/225-ish. Watching Brady perform, practice & train. Being
coached by Bill, Josh & co. Jackson would see H.O.F. coaches & players
do , show , tell the game from a 3 person p.o.v. while honing in on his      
craft. For any player that would be special. This player has an arm cannon,
accuracy, poise, a sub 4.4 & ridiculous agility? Imagine what Josh &
Jackson could do in the spread/r.p.o. game? Jackson might not strike you as a P-
TP (Patriot-Type Player) but he absolutely is. He’s barely old enough to drink.
So he can sit, learn & still have a long, productive career. His work
ethic well the guys been working with a trainer since 6 & using V.T. to 
help decode coverage. I’d say he welcomes a challenge & isn’t afraid of hard
work. His skills are literally video game-like.You simply don’t have many people
on earth who can do what he does. And I’m not only talking about the
flashy stuff. He’s much more than that. As a player & person.

Here’s my full scouting report on Jackson

Background

    • Born Jan 7, 1997. Son of Felicia Jones & Lamar Jackson.
    • From Pompano Beach, Florida. Went to Boynton Beach High School. Played
      2 years at QB (22 passing/31 rushing TD S)

  • Father died at 8. Mother Felicia has been by his side, managing her
    son and keeping him on the right track. From school grades early on, working w/
    a trainer to improve or emphasizing the importance of the bond between
    teammates. She’s purposely stayed in background & sought no attention.
  • Started 8 games as Freshman. Burst onto National stage after Music
    City Bowl. 227 passing yards/2 TD, 226 rushing yards/2 TD s. Won a Heisman as a 
    Soph.

Strengths

    • 6 3/205 & has obvious room for some added muscle.

 

    • Pocket Passer – Cannon for an arm that hit 70+ w/ flick
      of wrist. Tons of velocity coming off the ball. At times good placement &
      accuracy. Little wasted motion overall. Has almost full body throwing motion  
      but generates power from hip through core. At times can hit deep stuff &
      throw w/ anticipation – Go, Post/corner, crossers etc but best working isolation
      – slant, skinny post (bang-8), seem. Handles flat curl/slant & checkdowns.
      Go s through multiple progressions, will hit backside read, can work hi/low. 
      Works l.o.s. pre-snap.
    • Familiarity w/ pistol(triple) since high school & almost mastered
      Petrino’s system by 20 years old. Very capable of coaching & learning.
    • Great poise. Doesn’t get flustered by pressure. Stands ground strong
      & throws w/ bodies around/touching him. If forced out will re-set, look at
      options & deliver a dart. Eyes/head are always focused down field on
      possible pass.
    • Accuracy, overall play & grasp of system improved each year. (He
      did this while suffering from the highest drop rate from his WR’s & below
      avg line)
    • Doesn’t throw INT s & understands importance of not turning the 
      ball over is.
    • Very good play action fake, pump fake. Will hold & move S s & 
      LB s w/ his eyes.

 

  • Experienced in shot gun & some under center.
  • Rushing Weapon/Threat – Supreme rushing playmaker that
    leaves would-be tacklers humbled. Will juke, cut, or just run by almost anyone.
    Body bends & shifts to avoid touch. Legit 4.35-4.40 speed. Will not only
    force a spy but the entire defense to pay attention at all times. DB s, esp will
    have a choice to make when he’s on the move (go for the tackle or stay in
    coverage) Can take it the distance from anywhere or pick up easy yards defense
    gives up or can’t account for. Smart will follow & look for blockers. Great
    acceleration & agility, even when tacklers take a great angle he can slip
    by. Even has stiff arm.
  • Does a very good job avoiding big hit.
  • Averaged over 6 yards per carry for his career (5.9, 6.0, 6.9)

Concerns

  • Mechanics – Footwork needs some clean-up. Isn’t always
    pointed towards target. Feet could be wider a touch. Could hold ball a little
    higher w/ a little more follow through to get it out quicker/higher. Would help
    a lot on short/quick plays. Needs to keep moving feet at all times.
  • Pocket awareness can be inconsistent. Has to scan pocket as well as
    field.
  • Inconsistent overall accuracy & placement
  • Would like to see him take more command of the huddle/field
    overall.
  • Ball security has to get better when on the move, esp around the
    pocket.
  • Has to add weight. NFL is a different animal & 10-15 lbs isn’t
    going to slow him down that much, if at all.

Outlook
Jackson is a fantastic prospect. By 20 y/o he almost mastered Petrino’s offense
(after being doubted by many), won a Heisman & is 1 of 2 players
(Kaepernick)to throw for 9,000+ yards & rush for 4,000+ yards (9,043 yards
69 TD’S & 4,132 50 TD S). He’s only 21 y/o & shown he takes, 
wants to learn & be coached. He literally has it all & can do almost
anything on the field. He’ll probably never be Tom Brady or Steve Young in terms
of accuracy, that’s just never going to be his strongest asset. The beauty &
brilliance of Jackson is that doesn’t have to be. And he’s shown improvements
the past few years. He only needs to be slightly improve in a few areas
(mechanics, awareness, more command & he’ll add weight when he fills out
naturally) to become a really great player. We’re not talking an overhaul
here,more tinkering. Also when evaluating players you have project how a
player will fit with other NFL players, schemes, coaches etc. Jackson’s style
absolutely works & succeeds. And he’s hungry for coaching. One thing to note
is he didn’t play w/ many NFL players on offense at all. He didn’t have NFL
talent around him. And the football program did him no favors on many plays when
opposing teams blitzed. Imagine what he could do w/ a serious line & skill
players, or a top tier RB beside him like a Bell, Johnson or Lewis?
And I’d argue there’s no better place to be developed than in New England.
Imagine what Josh could do w/ an evolved Jackson 3 years from now? We’ve all
seen some of spacing he got Brissett & Jimmy when they got their chance.
What if that was Jackson with wide open field in front of him? The possibilities
with those two are scary.
Jackson is a 1st round QB & possible top by my scale pick if he really shows
out at the combine.
Pro Comp – cross between …
Pocket – Cunningham/Mariota
Rushing – Vick/Cunningham

 

Mike’s Report:
Positives:
Jackson is an elite athlete and has the potential to be a true threat as a
passer and a runner in the NFL. He has adequate height for the position, with a
frame that can still be added to. As a runner, he has the speed and agility to
make defenders miss. His tape shows an electric player in the open field as a
runner. As a thrower, he has shown that he can make every pass that is needed to
be successful in the NFL. He has shown he can throw with power as well as with
touch. He shows the ability to hit his receivers in stride and can use that
rocket of an arm to squeeze the ball into tight windows. While he has the
ability to run, this year he has shown he is willing to keep his eyes downfield
and does not immediately look to tuck and run at the first sign of trouble. He
comes from an offense that ran both R.P.O concepts as well as pro style
concepts, including option concepts very similar to what the Patriots run,
albeit a simplified version. He is young and still developing, but showed
improvement throughout his career at Louisville. Jackson showed he could make
plays despite playing behind a bad offensive line and with receivers that did
him no favors when it came to making catches. His ability to read through his
progressions has improved as did his ability to make pre-snap reads. He is a
smart player who takes to coaching well and has excellent leadership potential.
In clip #1, you see Jackson work through his progressions and make an accurate
throw to the intermediate level.

On this next clip, Jackson still has a narrow base, but he does step into the
throw, which helps with his touch and accuracy downfield. Again, the tools are
there and he has shown to be able to do all the little things right, it just has
to be emphasized by a coaching staff and ingrained into his mind. If/when that
happens, he will be dangerous.

Negatives:
Jackson has a cannon for an arm and can throw the ball downfield with just a
flick of the wrist. Unfortunately, this god given talent has also allowed him to
get away with bad mechanics, especially in his lower half. He is far too narrow
in his base and when he throws, he does not always transfer his weight properly.
These arm throws lead to balls floating and overall inaccuracy. Even when he
becomes a ball carrier, his footwork is frenetic. His feet will be going faster
than his body and he will lose balance and tackle himself. Basically, he is
going to be starting from scratch when it comes to his footwork. Everything from
his drops (3 step, 5 step, 7 step) to his weight transfer, to his base work have
to reworked. Another aspect that Jackson has to work on is throwing with
anticipation. You can see him second guess throws because his intended target is
not open when he looks to throw. He has to learn to throw receivers open,
because that is the only way to succeed in the NFL. He doesn’t always trust what
he sees and either looks for another option, or looks to run. From an upper body
perspective, he tends to hold the ball a little low and typically exposed. This
has led to too many fumbles and will need to be cleaned up. Because of his
ability to run, he hasn’t had to develop his pocket awareness as much as it
needs to be. He will run himself into sacks because he doesn’t feel the pressure
or is unsure of where defenders are in relation to the pocket.

It is easy to see why Jackson is such a hot topic of conversation. His
athleticism is undeniable and he truly has game changing ability with his legs.
While he has some mechanical issues that need to be worked on to become a
consistent passer in the NFL, the talent and the drive are there. He has such
raw ability that his ceiling might be the highest of anyone QB in this class.
When you watch the tape, you see these glimpses of what he can become. When he
does the little things correctly, he can make even the most difficult throws
look easy. He has made every throw in the NFL and they have all looked beautiful
at times. The issues are real however and they have to be fixed. He cannot rely
on arm strength alone if he wants to be a top tier QB in the NFL. His accuracy
is tied to his footwork, and is fixable. If a team drafts him and expects him to
play right away, Jackson will struggle, but, if he gets a chance to sit and
learn while fixing his mechanical issues, he could end up being the best QB in
this class. I am shocked with where his current draft projection is, because I
have seen QB’s with bigger issues and lower ceilings get taken high in the draft
before.

Link to Mark’s article:
http://insidethepylon.com/nfl/2018-nfl-draft/2018/02/26/defendants-reply-brief-
big-draft-versus-lamar-jackson/

8 Responses to “Scouting Report: Lamar Jackson, take 2”

  1. brandonmaxham says:

    mock draft after Shelton trade :

    1st: Sam Hubbard DE Ohio St

    2nd: Justin Reid S Stanford

    3rd: Kameron Kelly CB SDST

    4th: Brandon Parker OT NC A&T

    5th: Kemoko Turay OLB Rutgers

    6th: Chase Litton QB Marshall

  2. macspak says:

    as I’ve said in prior posts Jackson is my man. Likely has the highest upside of any player in this draft. The break through QB who can combine leadership, athleticism and passing at an elite level in the pro game. Not only would I take him with 31; I would consider trading up for him, despite our other shortcomings.

  3. steve earle says:

    Well it all depends on where he comes down to in my mind. Not in our first 3 picks thank you very much.

  4. J H TARBORO says:

    We really should give this kid some consideration, and who knows if the Patriots are looking for a pocket passer for the future, the next guy won’t be Tom Brady! Lamar’s spread offense has similar nuances of the Patriots offense, and based on what we do, he fits! Who knew, when we drafted Jacoby Brisett, what the Patriots are really looking for. Good luck Lamar, you’ll look good in a Patriots uniform and hopefully get a chance to learn behind the Goat!

    • brandonmaxham says:

      I’m with you in the Lamar possibly being the future QB of the Patriots . The offensive schemes are similar so it would be an easier transition then some of the other QBs.

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