It seems kind of laughable now, doesn’t it?
In 2018, questions about Lamar Jackson’s future position were unavoidable. His speed and elusiveness, combined with a spotty track record when it came to accuracy, had teams salivating about his potential at a number of skill positions in the NFL -- quarterback not included.
Now, coming off a unanimous MVP campaign, during which he rewrote record books and established himself as one of the young faces of the next generation of quarterbacks, it’s strange to look back on a time when the majority of football pundits thought his future was at wide receiver or running back.
Jackson’s undeniable success has not only taken the NFL by storm, it’s paved the way for future athletic college quarterbacks to stick at the position.
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, formerly of Alabama and one of the top players in the country, is receiving the same questions at this year’s NFL Combine that Jackson fielded at his. Namely, is he willing to switch positions?
His answer mirrors Jackson’s. He’s a quarterback only, and he has no interest in switching positions to appease an organization with less foresight than what the Ravens had with Jackson.
While Hurts didn’t mention Jackson by name in his reasoning, it’s hard not to draw parallels. Jackson’s 2019 season was one for the history books, and his influence will continue to trickle down to future generations.
Players like Jackson and Hurts haven’t always had the same opportunities to succeed -- or, more importantly, fail -- as other, more “traditional” quarterbacks have had in the course of NFL history. But organizations that are creative and willing to tailor their offensive schemes to the attributes of their quarterbacks are taking advantage of a largely backward-minded league.
Teams that look at Hurts and see a unique skillset full of things he can do, rather than what he can’t, are the way of the future.
Hurts himself, along with a generation of fellow athletic quarterbacks entering the league over the next few seasons, are betting on this future when they demand to be evaluated as quarterbacks only.
They may have found a way to push through on their own. But Jackson’s incredible year has opened up the path in a major way, making it that much easier for the next crop of unique, talented quarterbacks to shine.
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