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Lamar Jackson Strictly A Quarterback

Louisville's Heisman winner wants to show dual talents behind center


Louisville's Lamar Jackson is an intriguing quarterback prospect in the 2018 draft.

Lamar Jackson smiled, as he did through much of the media session that spent probably too much time on whether the Louisville quarterback would work out at all as a wide receiver for NFL teams.

"You know, I thought I did a good job at quarterback," Jackson said good-naturedly.

A Heisman Trophy says Jackson did, as do his statistics: More than 3,500 yards each of the last two seasons, 57 total touchdown passes (against 19 interceptions), and 3,171 total rushing yards and 39 rushing touchdowns in that same span.

Jackson, 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, is a dangerous player to put behind center. The analysis will be whether it can carry over into the NFL.

That Jackson should forgo an opportunity to try quarterback is foolish, given his production. During the Scouting combine, a report said there were teams that wanted to work him at receiver. That held no interest for Jackson.

"Whoever likes me at quarterback, that's where I'm going," Jackson said. "That's strictly my position."

There will be multiple teams in a quarterback-hungry league that will want to give him that chance.

"I think you probably want to try it there and see," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "He's pretty good. I would. I'd give that a whirl."

There are concerns about Jackson's game, most notably his accuracy as a passer. His completion percentage slowly rose in his college career – from 54.7 to 56.2 to 59.1 – but with passing windows shrinking considerably on the next level, it will have to be addressed.

Jackson's showing at the combine, throwing on air, didn't help as he struggled at times.

"He is the most fascinating athlete in this draft," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. "I think a team is going to bite on him and commit to him philosophically (because) you have to understand what you're getting.

"You saw it out there (at the combine). Erratic. Inconsistent. But perhaps the best athlete in this draft. And I think the way the NFL is going, teams are going to start to commit (to players with his talent). You saw what (Texans coach) Bill O'Brien did with Deshaun Watson. He did an outstanding job of catering to Deshaun and making him comfortable last year. I think somebody is going to do that with Lamar. He's Michael Vick. He has as good a pair of legs as anybody in the history of the game. And he's going to win games with his legs."

Jackson isn't Watson -- Watson completed 67 percent of his passes in college, much better than what Jackson posted – but as with many quarterbacks entering the NFL these days, tweaking the offense to best fit the new man behind center has proven effective.

That makes Jackson intriguing at the very least, and still a strong possibility of being a first-round pick.

"(Deshaun) did a lot, coming in as a rookie," Jackson said. "He learned a lot. And he got better. I feel like I can do the same thing."

Images of some of the more notable quarterbacks scheduled to hit free agency

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