Lamar Jackson is a quarterback, and a darn good one at that. He’s not a wide receiver, he’s not too short, and he most certainly is not lacking talent when it comes to the pure passing game, despite what Bill Polian would have you believe.
Yet, because Jackson is a freak of nature from an athletic standpoint — he’s a 4.4-second 40 guy who has Barry Sanders-esque agility — Polian isn’t the only one out there who thinks Jackson should switch positions ahead of his NFL career. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report recently wrote, “I continue to hear some teams consider Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson a better prospect at receiver than at quarterback.”
Now, Jackson is about to be one of the featured attractions at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine. He’s probably the most exciting quarterback prospect for this particular stage since Robert Griffin III back in 2012.
Of course, everyone wants to see how fast Jackson will run. Anyone who watched him play at Louisville already knows he’s blazing fast (watch here). But there’s something about the allure of watching a guy tear up the track at Lucas Oil Stadium that makes us somehow value that test more than the film.
That’s exactly why Jackson should refuse to run.
He’s made it clear he’s not going to switch positions, and that’s absolutely the right call. He’s an elite quarterback prospect. And what’s particularly galling about the calls for Jackson to switch positions is that this is a year in which Josh Allen from Wyoming — a humongous project quarterback with a big arm comparable to JaMarcus Russell — is being talked about as the potential No. 1 overall pick.
Jackson’s arm isn’t quite on par with Allen’s. But he’s got the second-strongest arm in this year’s draft class. He’s also been much more accurate throughout his career, despite playing behind a truly awful offensive line, and this past year he was playing with a significantly diminished overall offensive roster. Yet that didn’t stop him from having a season that compared favorably to his 2016 Heisman-winning campaign.
He’s a quarterback who can also run — not a running quarterback. He has demonstrated the ability to read through his progressions, keep his eyes downfield for big plays while under immense pressure and can throw darts to any spot on the field (like this).
Jackson should refuse to run as a means to send a message to NFL clubs that they need to value him as a passer, rather than a guy who can blaze up the track. He should refuse to run to let everyone know he’s not going to be pressured into switching positions. He should refuse to run so that any team that isn’t sold on him as a passer can simply move on and focus elsewhere, allowing the teams that do value him that way a clear path to their target.
Lamar Jackson can run. We all know this. So there’s no reason for him to run at the combine. It’s as simple as that.