No, Lamar Jackson (featured) hasn’t officially declared for the NFL draft yet, but the arrow certainly points to him declaring for the 2018 draft following his junior year.
Jackson has already won a Heisman Trophy and turned Louisville into a national power, despite them being in a down year in 2017. However, it’s hardly Jackson’s fault that the Cardinals are 4-3 and 1-3 in ACC play. In fact, his numbers are on par with what he did last season.
In 13 games a season ago, Jackson threw for 3,543 yards with 30 touchdowns. On the ground, he picked up an additional 1,571 yards and 21 scores.
Through seven games this year, Jackson has 2,322 yards with 16 touchdowns. His passing yards has him fourth in the country. He also has a higher quarterback rating and a higher completion percentage in 2017, despite losing his top weapons from a year ago. As a runner, the numbers are slightly down, with just 690 yards and 10 touchdowns.
If Louisville was even a little bit competent on defense, he’d be right in the mix with Bryce Love and Saquon Barkley for Heisman.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup, this may be the last time where Jackson has to go against a defense with multiple future NFL players. Florida State’s defense is one of the best around, with pro talent at all three levels. They only give up 330 yards a contest. However, Jackson was able to shred the Seminoles defense a year ago, in a game where he essentially locked up the Heisman Trophy.
While Jackson may not put up the video game numbers he did last year, he still could be in for a nice day.
How he manages and identifies Derwin James before each snap will be key. James was out of last year’s game. James lines up all over the field for Florida State, and will likely be making plays at all three levels for the Seminoles come Saturday.
He’ll likely stay away from ball-hawking corner Tavarus McFadden all night.
It will be interesting to see how he handles the outside pass-rush, and see if he keeps his eyes downfield, or takes off at the first sign of pressure. Him in the open field isn’t a bad thing for the Louisville offense, but if he wants to make it as a quarterback in the NFL, he needs to learn how to keep his eyes downfield, unless he wants to be another Robert Griffin III.
Right now, in a loaded quarterback class, Jackson is projected as high as a late first rounder, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him fall to the third round. He’s a game-breaking talent, but he needs to be more efficient in the passing game. Showing that he can make the right reads while continuing to take care of the ball could drive his stock way up.
Cover Photo via Sporting News