Louisville’s Jackson justifies staying at QB
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — As promised, former Louisville quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson spent Saturday at the NFL scouting combine slinging it and not winging it.
Jackson didn’t show off a big arm like Wyoming’s Josh Allen, the other prime prospect in his throwing group Saturday.
But nobody else did, either: Allen wowed the coaches with a 66-yard pinpoint pass at one point during the first of two sessions with the quarterbacks and wide receivers at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Jackson, though, was much more explosive than Allen was in his drops, consistently getting 7 yards deep on five-step drills whereas Allen made up for his poorer footwork with his superior arm strength.
Widely considered the best running quarterback since Michael Vick but a thrower who still needs polish, Jackson shook off some apparent jitters to show off a good enough passing prowess to justify his reticence to switch to wide receiver.
Jackson never caught a single pass at Louisville, where he threw for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns, ran for 4,132 yards and 50 TDs in 38 games. On Friday, he dismissed widespread speculation about him running routes with the receivers here.
“No sir. I’m a quarterback,” he said.
The buzz began building when former Colts executive Bill Polian told ESPN he thought Jackson should switch to receiver because he’s not as accurate, tall or strong as the other hopefuls in this year’s deep class of college quarterbacks. Polian suggested Jackson should make the switch sooner than did Terrelle Pryor, the ex-Ohio State QB who switched to wide receiver at age 26.
Such a notion was met by skepticism from several teams this week, and Jackson said he won’t switch positions even if asked.
“No sir,” he said, “I’m a quarterback.”
And he said he’s not interested in just running wildcat plays, where he’d take the direct snap and zip around the tackle, either.
“No wildcat,” Jackson said. “This is not the Dolphins with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. No sir.”
While USC’s Sam Darnold chose not to throw at the combine because he’d rather show off his arm with his own receivers at USC’s upcoming pro day, Jackson decided not to run the 40-yard dash.
“Film speaks for itself as far as showing off my speed and showing I can make people miss,” Jackson said. “I’ve just got to show off my arm — because that’s where they’re doubting me.”
He assuaged some of those concerns Saturday.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton