Please don’t think that this article is saying that Lamar Jackson will return to Louisville for his senior year because nobody knows what he will decide. I’m just simply pointing out that there is plenty of reasons for him to return. As much as I would love another year with him, I won’t be upset either way. Whatever is best for Lamar is what I am in favor of. But I am not ready to say that it’s a foregone conclusion that Lamar will enter this years NFL draft. I believe there is a decent chance he returns.
If you follow the NFL mock drafts then you already know that Lamar is projected to go as high as the 2nd pick and as low as late second round. Personally, I only put stock into the mock drafts that use information from NFL scouts. Most of those mock drafts don’t have Lamar being drafted in the first round. The consensus is that there will be 3, possibly 4, quarterbacks taken in the first round and 2 taken in the second. Many of those say that Lamar will be the fifth quarterback taken. But all this is assuming that Southern California quarterback Sam Darnold decides to enter the draft. The rumor is that he is leaning towards returning to school. That means the supply of quarterbacks in the first round might not fit the demand therefore benefitting Lamar. However, if Darold does decide to enter the draft, it seems as though the consensus is that the first 2 quarterbacks taken would be Darnold and Josh Rosen from UCLA.
Nobody is doubting Lamar’s athletic and dynamic ability. The knock on him is his size and accuracy. Here is what Bucky Brooks from NFL.com wrote about Lamar after talking to NFL scouts.
Skeptics worry about his frame, but he is noticeably bigger and thicker than a season ago. That’s helped him become a more physical and effective runner on the perimeter.
As a passer, Jackson displays outstanding arm strength and range. He can push the ball down the field as an effective vertical passer on post and go routes. Although he struggles a bit with his ball placement and accuracy on home-run balls due to his shoddy footwork and fundamentals, Jackson has the capacity to strike up the band as a long-ball tosser.
On short and intermediate throws, his struggles with inconsistency are also due to his unpolished mechanics. Jackson misses the mark on outside throws, particularly comebacks and deep outs beyond 12-15 yards. He frequently misses high and wide on those throws, which is largely due to his failure to properly step into his passes.
Jackson is at his best when throwing isolation routes (seams and skinny posts) or simple reads (slants-flats; stick-go and curl-flat). Offensive coordinators will feature those concepts prominently in spread offenses, but NFL coordinators typically opt for full-field reads or pure progression concepts that require the quarterback to tie his eyes to his feet in the pocket. Thus, Jackson still has a ways to go as a passer before convincing traditional play callers that he can fill the role as a high-end QB1.
Besides coming back to work on his accuracy, another reason he might consider returning would be financial ramifications. Last year’s overall No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, received a rookie contract approximately worth $30,400,000, that includes $20,500,000 in signing bonus money. The 32nd overall pick (last pick in the 1st round) Ryan Ramczyk, signed a rookie deal approximately worth $8,900,000, that includes a $4,600,000 signing bonus. Also, only players in the first round receive contracts that were at least 70% guaranteed. Businessinsider.com says ”Things really drop in the second round, where the average contract was worth about $5.1 million over four years ($1.3 million per year), according to Spotrac.com, but with only half of that guaranteed. The value of third-round contracts drops to $3.3 million, but takes an even bigger hit in guaranteed value, with the average contract worth just $756,000 in guaranteed money.
Once a player falls past the third round, most draft picks will sign a 4-year deal in the $2.4-2.9 million range. The only major difference late in the draft is the signing bonus, ranging from $400,000-600,000 in the fourth round to slightly more than $60,000 in the seventh round.”
If Lamar were to return to school and enter the following NFL draft he could potentially move way up he draft board and could earn a contract worth millions more. But is it worth the risk? I know there are insurance policies to help offset the risk but is that enough?
I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to hold a significant amount of belief that he returns to school. Lamar loves Louisville and the college experience.
Lamar and his family have a lot to think about and no matter what they decide, I wish him the best and I am thankful to have covered the best college football player that I have ever witnessed.
As Always, GO CARDS!