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Seven GIFs: Lamar Jackson’s early Jaguars scouting report

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Given the Jaguars lack of stability at quarterback, let’s begin observing at 2018 quarterbacks, starting with Louisville QB Lamar Jackson.

NCAA Football: Louisville vs Purdue Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

We all know how Blake Bortles has worked out for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fans have already begun their 2018 mock drafts, with quarterback being the number one position of need.

It sucks that we're at this point as Jaguars fans, considering the 2017 NFL season hasn't even started yet, but it's what we have come to.

Considering the Jaguars desperately need to find their franchise quarterback during the 2018 offseason, we’re going to look over two games of 2016 film for some 2018 quarterback prospects, as well as analyze their scheme fits and if it matches what the Jaguars seem to want in their QB.

Since these prospects have an entire season of film to produce before getting drafted next year, we will keep these pieces short, posting only seven GIFs that sum up each players’ skill-set and where they need to advance their game this season. After the 2017 college football season, we will revisit each covered prospect, as well as breakout prospects, and observe how each prospect has advanced their game.

To kick this series off, let’s discuss perhaps the most polarizing quarterback in college football right now: Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

2016 film review

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is most notably known for his speed and mobility:

He ran a 4.34 second 40 yard dash during the Cardinals spring testing session this offseason. However, Jackson doesn’t get enough credit for his ability as a passer and the mental side of his game.

Here, Jackson makes a quick read and puts a lot of zip on this ball across the middle of the field. He places this ball well, making the receiver stretch away from the defensive back:

These are the simple plays that the Jaguars want a quarterback to complete — short, quick, and accurate. Jackson excels throwing in the middle of the field, across all distances:

From my rummaging through Twitter, where football takes are literally everywhere, many people have been quick to claim that Jackson can’t read a defense and relies on his first read to make his throws. I’m not sure where that narrative comes from, but one thing I do know is that it’s lazy. Jackson ditches his first read at the bottom slot receiver’s cut and quickly releases to his second read across the middle, and places this pass perfectly:

Jackson has uncanny ability when it comes to escaping pressure, whether it be tucking the ball and running or avoiding pressure with his speed and still delivering a nice throw. Here, you can see Jackson complete the latter, for a touchdown:

One thing that Jackson must improve on in 2017 is not running from a clean pocket. While his mobility is top notch, he doesn’t need to be so quick to run away with little-to-no pressure:

Granted, the left tackle missed the blitzing LB by sliding inside, but Jackson had a clean right side of the pocket to step in to. Running 18 yards backwards is never a smart thing to do, even though he gets the ball away.

Another thing Jackson must work on is accurately attacking the boundaries. He can clearly place the ball well across the middle of the field and on short throws, he needs to be able to hit the receiver on the outside mid/deep ball:

Stat lines

Currently standing at 6-3, 211 lbs, Jackson’s frame is a little thin, although he stands at a fine height for an NFL quarterback. He need not add too much, putting on about 5-10 lbs of muscle before the NFL Combine would be fantastic for his draft stock.

In his stellar 2016 season, Jackson went 230/409 (56.2%) for 3543 yards (8.7 yards per attempt, 9.1 adjusted yards per attempt), and 30 touchdowns (7.3 TD%) vs. nine interceptions (2.2 INT%). To add to those numbers, Jackson rushed for 1571 yards and 21 touchdowns on 260 attempts, averaging six yards per attempt.

To kick off the 2017 season, Jackson went 30/46 (65.2%) for 378 yards (8.2 Y/A, 9.1 AY/A) and two touchdowns. Jackson put on a show with his arm, and tested the deep ball throughout the game accurately. He rushed for 107 yards on 21 carries as well.

If Jackson enters the 2018 NFL Draft, he will have turned 21 only three months before his name is called (he was born on January 7th, 1997). He’s still very fresh and has a lot to improve on in his game, but the talent, mental processing, and stat-line is there for Jackson to become a star.

Check in after the 2017 NCAA season for a junior season film review and full scouting report on Lamar Jackson, as well as our next seven GIF 2016 QB review piece, on Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph.