RSP Boiler Room No. 100: QB Lamar Jackson (Louisville)

The RSP Boiler Room examines Lamar Jackson, a top quarterback prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft, and his skill for reading the field and negotiating the pocket.

When I say that I like to seclude myself from the college football media narratives, I am not lying. I watch hundreds of colleges games each year. If my film has commentary, most of the time the sound is off. I purposely attempt to disconnect from the game’s storylines, including team rankings and individual accomplishments.

Lamar Jackson’s 2016 season is a great example because, until the wee hours of July 16, 2017, I had no idea that he won the Heisman Trophy. It’s weird to admit that I study college football players in this much depth and didn’t know who won the Heisman.  However, it pleases me in the most perverse way that I not only remained unaware of Jackson earning the award but that it never even crossed my mind to keep up with the Heisman.

The only thing that matters to me about college football is a player’s on-field performance and how closely it matches an NFL standard of techniques, athletic ability, conceptual skill, and emotional intelligence. When I tell people that studying college players is my job, I mean it.

I watch the NFL for fun.

Even so, I had fun studying Lamar Jackson this weekend. After observing his performance against NC State and Clemson, I’m impressed with his skills and his upside as a passer and I’m subsequently perplexed about the takes I’ve seen from a contingent of fans and media who compare him to Michael Vick.

I shouldn’t be. There’s probably not a lot of in-depth analysis on Jackson just yet, which means that a thin, quick, and fast quarterback whose team relies upon him heavily will lead to Vick comparisons—and from some who watched Vick during a time when puberty was still a distant journey and memories easily conflate with hyperbole.

From what I’ve seen of Vick at Virginia Tech and Jackson (so far) at Lousiville, Vick had a bigger arm and he was a more dangerous runner. However, Jackson has better pocket skills and decision-making as a passer.

Jackson has notable flaws with accuracy and footwork, but that’s for another episode that I’ve already taped. Today’s boiler room examines Jackson’s ability to negotiate a pocket, hold a safety, and make a pinpoint throw on what is at least a third read—and a tricky one at that.

This is the kind of play NFL quarterback prospects will have to make in the NFL, and it’s encouraging that Jackson is already doing it as a sophomore. As I’ll show you in subsequent boiler rooms, Jackson’s flaws with accuracy are mostly mechanical and addressable because of his skill when working from a structured, technical base of knowledge. I’m excited about watching Jackson this year because as much of a compliment that some may think it is to bestow a Vick comparison to Jackson, I think it’s highly superficial and misses the real goods of his game.

For analysis of skill players in the 2017 draft class, download Matt Waldman’s 2017 Rookie Scouting Portfolio today! Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2017 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece.


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