The first of a five-part series looking at quarterbacks - and possible heirs to Tom Brady as the starter - the Patriots could draft.
Who knows how long Tom Brady can keep spinning it the way he does, can keep defying Father Time? His oft-stated desire is to play until he’s 45 although recent developments suggest perhaps he’s rethinking that. Point is, there is no succession plan here in New England. He went out the door, now the current plan in San Francisco. So will the Patriots feel the need to find a signal caller in this draft? Considering the feelings about the class of 2019, it does seem like this is a now-or-forever-hold-your-peace-moment.
That leads us to Lamar Jackson. A more dynamic and electrifying player you will not find in the Class of 2018. Jackson took the country by storm as a sophomore, winning the Heisman Trophy. He threw for 35-hundred yards and ran for nearly 1,600 more. He was responsible for 51 touchdowns. 51!
Last season, the Louisville flash accounted for another 45 scores while improving his completion percentage for 56 to 59 percent. That was good enough to place him third in the Heisman voting while winning his second consecutive ACC Player of the Year award. But still, the question persists: is Jackson a quarterback or is he a receiver?
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Former Colts GM Bill Polian drew fire for suggesting Jackson was too short (he’s 6’3”) and too slight to play the position. But there are plenty of others that believe Jackson’s inconsistent accuracy contrasted with his incredible playmaking ability suggest his best spot is on the edge as a runner/receiver not under center.
Considering how the Patriots are willing to adapt their offense to utilize players special skills, might they be willing to do the same with Jackson were they to take the plunge and select him in the draft. Of course, they’d have to do that very high. Grades differ but Jackson appears to be a borderline first rounder and most certainly a second-rounder. The Pats have those multiple picks in those two rounds - 31, 43rd and 63rd - so they appear to fall in Jackson’s target range.
In watching Jackson, there are times where I thought “he’s got a chance to be a star” Against Florida State, facing pressure, Jackson dropped a 35-yard throw outside the numbers. The receiver was covered. The defensive back had no chance. That ball was put in a place where only the Louisville player could catch it.
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Jackson has a live arm and a clean delivery. The strength in that wing is evident but he can also throw the ball with touch. But his inconsistencies as a thrower show up every single week and can vary from throw to throw on the same drive. Can his mechanics be cleaned up enough to make that less common?
Jackson also has issues throwing the ball in the middle of the field. Does that sound like a quarterback who fits what the Pats want to do? Thus far, the team hasn’t been linked to Jackson in any way, shape or form but as we well know, that doesn’t mean a damn thing. I’m sure they’ve done their homework.
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Might the lure of this big play artist who wouldn’t need to be rushed with Brady still on the roster appeal to Bill Belichick? We know that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had no problem thinking outside the box, selecting Tim Tebow during his brief tenure as the head coach in Denver. McDaniels wasn’t afraid to rework the plan. Maybe with McDaniels’ growing influence in the organization, Jackson climbs their draft board. This kid is intriguing, and he's charismatic, but in the end, the erratic nature of his play would make me take a pass. Then again, I don't have the future of an organization riding on my shoulders.