Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and even into June. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: Lamar Jackson
Pro Team: Baltimore Ravens
Draft Pick: Round one, 32nd overall
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 216 pounds
- Hand Size: 9 1/2”
- Arm Length: 33 1/8”
- Bench Press: N/A
- 40 Yard Dash: N/A
- 20 Yard Shuttle: N/A
- 60 Yard Shuttle: N/A
- 3 Cone: N/A
- Broad Jump: N/A
- Vertical Jump: N/A
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- 2017: 13 games, 3,489 yards, 60.4% completion percentage, 25 TD, 6 INT, 1,443 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns, 6.9 yards per carry
- 2016: 13 games, 3,543 yards, 56.2% completion percentage, 30 TD, 9 INT, 1,571 rushing yards, 21 touchdowns, 6.0 yards per carry
- 2015: 12 games, 1,840 yards, 54.7% completion percentage, 12 TD, 8 INT, 960 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, 5.9 yards per carry
- 3 Star Recruit (number 409 overall, number 12 dual threat quarterback) out of Boynton Beach Community in Florida
Jackson’s biggest strength is obviously his running ability. He’s one of the most prolific dual-threat quarterbacks of all time, which earned him the Heisman trophy in 2016. The only other quarterbacks with his type of speed and rushing ability to enter the NFL are Michael Vick, Vince Young, and Marcus Mariota. All three found success at the next level.
However, while his rushing ability is what will garner headlines, his passing ability has improved greatly over the course of his college career. This is obvious from his completion percentage, which increased during each of his three season and ultimately topped out at over 60% this season. He has great touch on his passes, and excels in the intermediate area of the field which I feel is most important for a quarterback. This season he improved his pocket presence, and stepped up in the pocket more often as opposed to taking off and running.
Jackson comes from Bobby Petrino’s pro style system, which will make his transition to an NFL offense much easier than most people anticipate. Lastly, he has a great throwing motion which scouts should love.
Jackson is not without his weaknesses, however. For starters, he has very skinny legs which leaves me a little worried about his injury risk given how often he runs. He also needs to learn how to slide and get out of bounds, as he can’t be taking punishing hits week in and week out at the next level.
Another concern I have about Jackson is his arm strength. He had the lowest velocity of any quarterback at this years Combine (49 MPH). Even stretching the definition of success as far as humanly possible, the only two quarterbacks to be successful are Deshaun Watson, who has played only seven games, and Mike Glennon, who got a big contract from the Bears but has never been a full time starter. While this is particularly an issue on deep balls, it is also apparent on his other throws. When Jackson needs to squeeze a ball into a tight window, he lacks the ability to zip it in there.
Going through his reads, he tends to only go through one or two before pulling it down and running. This needs to change at the next level. Lastly, his footwork isn’t where it needs to be at this level. He’ll need to improve in this are to become an elite quarterback at the next level.
It’s unlikely that Jackson will play much, if at all this season. Joe Flacco is entrenched as the starter in Baltimore, and while he may not always be the most effective quarterback, he has rightly earned that title. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Jackson start at least one game late in the year if the Ravens are out of contention, or to put him in for different packages throughout the season. Greg Roman is on the Ravens staff, and he worked through a similar situation with John Harbaugh’s brother Jim with the 49ers. He was able to effectively use both Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith, and I could see this turning into a similar situation down the road.
The only threat to Jackson at the quarterback position is Flacco who I mentioned above. The rest of the offenses’ future looks to be a little murky. The line is average at best, but if rookie Orlando Brown and second year player Nico Siragusa can develop into quality starters the team should be fine in that area.
The receiving core leaves a lot to be desired. Michael Crabtree will be 31 after this year, John Brown will be a free agent, and Willie Snead, who may have been a flash in the pan, is on a two year deal. The team did add Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews in the draft this year, but Hurst is a 25 year old tight end who very well could be the Brandon Weeden of tight ends and Andrews has almost no experience blocking. If Andrews develops he and Jackson could form a nice combo in an offense that incorporates air raid style concepts, but that is yet to be seen. Alex Collins, Javorius Allen, and Kenneth Dixon combine to bring together an average but very replaceable backfield, and adding a more dynamic running back to go along with Jackson could create a high powered rushing attack.
Short Term Expectations
As I mentioned above, don’t expect Jackson to play much, if at all this year. He has almost no redraft value, but I don’t mind taking a flyer on him late in best ball leagues in case Flacco gets hurt or he gets some starts late in the year.
Long Term Expectations
I’m not sure if Jackson will be a top flight NFL quarterback because of his potential passing limitations, but because of his rushing upside, he will be a threat to be a QB1 year in and year out. He can easily have a Cam Newton type fantasy career, where he is a little inconsistent week to week and year to year, but he’ll have some huge weeks and potentially some huge seasons.
I’ve already mentioned Michael Vick, and it’s probably the most popular comparison this draft cycle, but I think it’s an apt one. His dynamic ability as a runner is so similar to Vick it’s uncanny, and they both needed to be a little more refined as a passer coming out of school. I think Jackson was probably the better prospect coming out of school, and he may not have been as hyped because he chose to not test at the Combine.
Projected Rookie Draft Range
Jackson is currently being drafted as the QB2 in this draft behind Baker Mayfield in the late second round of mocks. If you draft Jackson you should have an established quarterback ahead of him, much like the Ravens already do. He won’t be playing year one and the situation going into year two is also murky. He certainly offers the highest fantasy upside of any quarterback in this class, but I would definitely take Mayfield over him and likely wouldn’t draft Jackson till the third round.
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