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Greg Cosell's draft analysis: Lamar Jackson can execute an NFL passing game


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Still wish we stayed at 6. Still hoping the Jets shock the world at 6.

https://sports.yahoo.com/greg-cosells-draft-analysis-lamar-jackson-can-execute-nfl-passing-game-145150269.html

When I watch Lamar Jackson on film I think about the Houston Texans last season. You look at what Bill O’Brien did with Deshaun Watson and I wonder, why couldn’t Jackson execute that offensive system effectively?

In studying Jackson’s tape from 2016 and 2017, you see a quarterback who can operate effectively within framework of a structured passing game. Louisville’s offense had a number of NFL pass game concepts, and that’s a plus for Jackson. There’s also a spectacular dimension to Jackson’s game that shows up with both designed runs and second-reaction throws and runs.

Jackson will be polarizing in draft rooms. Teams will have to weigh Jackson’s second-reaction playmaking, which is outstanding, and his pocket efficiency, an area in which some work is needed. Though, Jackson has shown the ability to operate in an NFL-style offense. The big question will become: What can and can’t be coached with Jackson, and what’s simply in his playing DNA when it comes to pocket stability?

There’s clearly an elite playmaking dimension with Jackson. Let’s take a long look at one of the most intriguing players in this draft class:

STRENGTHS

To state the obvious first, Jackson has outstanding ability as a runner. His NFL team can design a run game around Jackson’s skills, and he’ll make plays running the ball through second-reaction improvisation. Jackson will give his team an explosive quarterback run game with multiple dimensions and backfield actions. That type of offense can be very hard to defend, as we’ve seen with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Here’s an example of a designed run off a read option that Jackson broke for a 61-yard touchdown in the 2015 Music City Bowl. This is why Jackson’s NFL team will likely feature him on designed runs. Louisville featured many different designed runs, such as zone read and quarterback power, counter, draw or sweep, with some pistol runs as well.

Here’s an example of what Jackson can do when he improvises. While an NFL team doesn’t want to make improvisation the foundation of its offense, Jackson will make plays like this when things break down.

You won’t find much debate about Jackson’s ability to make things happen with his legs. It’s part of what made him a very productive player at Louisville. The debate is about Jackson’s ability to operate from the pocket. Though those questions are fair (and we’ll discuss them in a moment), I think Jackson has some good pocket skills already. Part of that is the college experience he had.

Louisville ran an offense with a lot of NFL concepts: mesh routes, sit routes, wheel routes and flat routes. You’d see two-man route concepts to the boundary, or short side of the field (like slant/flat combinations), and three-man route concepts to the field, or wide side. You’d see dagger and high-low concepts with other options built in, like posts, outs and flat routes. You see all of those things in NFL offenses. You’ll hear a lot about the work Jackson needs as he enters the NFL, and some of that will be fair, but what must also be mentioned is that Jackson ran an offense with a lot of passing-game concepts you see on Sundays — and he was highly productive doing so.

It’s important for an NFL quarterback to show timing and anticipation, and you saw that at times from Jackson. When the throw was defined within the initial timing of the drop, Jackson looked very comfortable as a passer. Here’s a good example, a 74-yard touchdown pass in 2016 against NC State, in which he sets up in the pocket and made a nice downfield throw within the timing of the play (it comes at 0:18 on the video below):

 
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On this 30-yard touchdown against Marshall, Jackson makes a good throw from the pocket. He shows good pace and touch here, which is necessary in the NFL. He makes the right read, throws it on time and with accuracy for the score (0:37 on the video below):

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While Jackson’s ability in the pocket has been debated, he isn’t entirely raw. He had a good feel for the pass-game concepts in Louisville’s offense, including progression reading. He flashed ability to move in the pocket and then reset with his eyes staying focused downfield. He is very good at making tight-window throws between the hashes (he’s more advanced at that than throwing outside the numbers, which is where some accuracy issues show up) against zone coverage, throwing into voids in the coverage and leading his receivers.

There are questions about Jackson’s ability from the pocket, but he has some pluses in that area.

WEAKNESSES

Physically, there are a few questions about Jackson as a thrower. He’s a short-arm thrower whose delivery is not smooth or natural. He often lacks a firm base. That limits what at times is a lively arm.

There are concerns about accuracy. He has a lack of consistent ball placement, especially outside the numbers. Some of that could be fixed with improved mechanics — he had a tendency to throw with all arm at times and not get his core involved with weight transfer. There are other issues with footwork on his drops, and he can keep his feet too close together in the pocket, but these are things that NFL teams will try to improve with coaching.

What needs to be looked at very carefully is his reaction to pressure and collapsing pockets. When I looked at his 2016 and 2017 tape, that’s an issue that consistently came up, and it’s concerning. In particular, against Clemson and NC State last season he played fast when he got pressured. He would then perceive pressure and move when he did not need to, and that breaks down the timing of a passing game. He would have a tendency to break down too quickly in the pocket and play to his legs when he sensed pressure, and when you see that it leads to the questions about whether Jackson can adjust his game to get rid of that tendency.

Here’s an example against Clemson last season. On a third-down play, Jackson breaks down almost immediately even though there’s no pressure. He tried to reset but the timing of the play was thrown off and he ran. He was stopped short of the first down:

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Here’s another play later in the game in which Jackson senses the rush before he even hit the final step of his drop-back, and he immediately looked to pull the ball down and run.

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There were snaps in which Jackson had too active a helmet, when he saw everything and saw nothing at the same time. NFL quarterbacks have to be able to oftentimes ignore the rush, stay in the pocket with a calm helmet and deliver the pass within the structure of the play. Jackson has shown he can do that. His NFL team will have to see if he can eliminate the plays in which he is too sensitive to pressure. There are more bodies around the quarterback in the NFL, and that tends to lead to more premature and random movement.

Though Jackson needs refinement, that’s not unusual for a young quarterback.

TRANSITION TO NFL

In 2016, Jackson won a Heisman Trophy. But in 2017 you more regularly saw a quarterback who can operate effectively within framework of a structured passing game. Jackson executed many NFL concepts in Louisville’s offense and can do the same in the NFL. And there’s no question what he can bring to a team’s run game.

There were also a few games over the past couple years in which Jackson was overly frenetic in the pocket due to pressure and broke down too quickly. That type of performance does not transition well to the NFL. Then the evaluation of Jackson as an NFL quarterback will be a function of one’s belief in the needed balance between consistent pocket play — and how and if that can be taught and refined — and the playmaking dimension Jackson brings.

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4 minutes ago, T0mShane said:

Except whoever drafts him is gonna have to deliver game plans via an alt Instagram account posing as a hot skeezer, otherwise Lamar isn’t picking up the phone. 

Plays have to go from the booth to Decatur Illinois to his mom and then to Lamar

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8 minutes ago, Tony MaC said:

I like Jackson a lot, very underrated in the pocket from what I've seen. Don't like him enough to draft him third overall though... 

Youre right. I hate to be that fan because whats done is done. But if we did stay at 6, I would have loved to go into the season with Jackson and 2 very good second round prospects who could have been difference makers, and not cared if we missed out on the top 4 QBs

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I resent the way that some of you look at Lamar, like his flaws are somehow worse than others. He didn't turn the ball over nearly as often as Sam. He didn't miss the kind of time that Rosen did with injuries (despite playing more physical football) AND he's statistically/mechanically an easier fix than Allen. In fact, he's more likely to succeed than Allen...

But hey, let him be someone else's problem. :rolleyes:

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13 minutes ago, Paradis said:

I resent the way that some of you look at Lamar, like his flaws are somehow worse than others. He didn't turn the ball over nearly as often as Sam. He didn't miss the kind of time that Rosen did with injuries (despite playing more physical football) AND he's statistically/mechanically an easier fix than Allen. In fact, he's more likely to succeed than Allen...

But hey, let him be someone else's problem. :rolleyes:

He runs too much, therefore he shouldn't be drafted :rolleyes:

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18 hours ago, Paradis said:

I resent the way that some of you look at Lamar, like his flaws are somehow worse than others. He didn't turn the ball over nearly as often as Sam. He didn't miss the kind of time that Rosen did with injuries (despite playing more physical football) AND he's statistically/mechanically an easier fix than Allen. In fact, he's more likely to succeed than Allen...

But hey, let him be someone else's problem. :rolleyes:

Spot on 

would like the Patriots to draft him if only to see the skinny on him in here do a total 180 from ‘let him be someone elses problem’ To ‘OMG Belichick is a genius and Lamar will terrorise us for 20 years’

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Our future  daily ritual here at jetnation for the next 15 years ..... 

"I can't believe we traded 3 picks for ____, we should have stayed at 6 and picked _______, then taken ______and _______ in the second round" 

In fact, I'm going to have to ask the trolls to just make that their sig to save everyone the effort of typing it everyday 

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3 minutes ago, Larz said:

Our future  daily ritual here at jetnation for the next 15 years ..... 

"I can't believe we traded 3 picks for ____, we should have stayed at 6 and picked _______, then taken ______and _______ in the second round" 

In fact, I'm going to have to ask the trolls to just make that their sig to save everyone the effort of typing it everyday 

100% valid questions to ask now and going forward.  The name of the game is get players you want while retaining as many assets as possible.

The use of the word 'Trolls' these days on forums means, 'any one that i disagree with'

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6 hours ago, redlichtie said:

Spot on 

would like the Patriots to draft him if only to see the skinny on him in here do a total 180 from ‘let him be someone elses problem’ To ‘OMG Belichick is a genius and Lamar will terrorise us for 20 years’

Honestly that would be me

but there’s zero chance Beli drafts him 

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On 4/10/2018 at 5:15 PM, Paradis said:

I resent the way that some of you look at Lamar, like his flaws are somehow worse than others. He didn't turn the ball over nearly as often as Sam. He didn't miss the kind of time that Rosen did with injuries (despite playing more physical football) AND he's statistically/mechanically an easier fix than Allen. In fact, he's more likely to succeed than Allen...

But hey, let him be someone else's problem. :rolleyes:

I agree the kid is a very good prospect from little I know but wouldn't trust this coaching staff to develop him. He needs to go to a team that can create an offense around his strengths and let him grow into the QB he can be. The Jets drafting this kid would be about the worse thing that could happen to him. We need the most ready NFL prospect we can draft at 3 and even then he probably has a less than 50% chance of succeeding here.

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1 hour ago, Larz said:

Our future  daily ritual here at jetnation for the next 15 years ..... 

"I can't believe we traded 3 picks for ____, we should have stayed at 6 and picked _______, then taken ______and _______ in the second round" 

In fact, I'm going to have to ask the trolls to just make that their sig to save everyone the effort of typing it everyday 

Yep, that's exactly right.  Just like the theme for the past year was tanking to get a QB.  Going forward will be about not getting the guy we should (in hindsight).  

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I like Lamar Jackson a lot, actually.  I agree that if Deshaun Watson can do it then LJ should be able to as well.  Of course, I'm worried about his ability to stay health with that style of play.  I think he's going to end up in AZ and is going to be terrific (while healthy).  But like other running QBs, will his HC teach him to try to throw mainly from the pocket, effectively taking away what makes him special?  It seems like that's the fate of a lot of running QBs.  I guess we'll see.  

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1 hour ago, Beerfish said:

100% valid questions to ask now and going forward.  The name of the game is get players you want while retaining as many assets as possible.

The use of the word 'Trolls' these days on forums means, 'any one that i disagree with'

Bringing it up constantly makes you a troll 

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1 hour ago, TuscanyTile2 said:

Yep, that's exactly right.  Just like the theme for the past year was tanking to get a QB.  Going forward will be about not getting the guy we should (in hindsight).  

This draft is setting up perfectly for the trolls 

First 2 picks are smart picks 

Jets pick is dumb 

Colts picks are hall of famers and the QB the Jets passed on is clearly the best QB 

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I started this thread and I have been wanting Jackson way before the trade up to 3. I still want Jackson at 3. 

I hate the what if game as well. Am a fan until draft day until he ends up on another team. 

But yes I preferred staying at 6, taking Jackson, and keeping the 2nd round picks to pick up an edge, O line, something along those lines. 

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If the Giants do not take a QB (or trade out), one of the top 4 could be at #6 let alone Jackson, agree staying at 6 could have worked out but Mac will have a choice at #3, just hope he chooses wisely 

I think the Chargers are interested in Jackson, don't think he makes it out of the first round 

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On 4/10/2018 at 5:30 PM, King P said:

He runs too much, therefore he shouldn't be drafted :rolleyes:

The more a QB runs, the more likely they are to be injured. It’s really that simple. I know you want to turn everything into a racial issue, but it’s really just basic math.

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1 hour ago, NoBowles said:

The more a QB runs, the more likely they are to be injured. It’s really that simple. I know you want to turn everything into a racial issue, but it’s really just basic math.

I love how people do the same thing they complain about. Only person that's making this racial is you.

Any QB can get injured whether they run or not. Theres no actual mathematic equation. Rosen got hurt more Lamar, and he's a damn statue.

I dont have a problem with a QB running as long as they do it responsibly. I've watched Lamar alot and although he does run quite a bit, he's become a smart runner. Alot of the times he takes what the defense gives him.

If you want to say he needs to become a better passer, fine (he's still a work in progress). But the whole "he runs too much" is silly to me"

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Borderline illiterate according to his wonderlic. Yes I know it's not determinative. Yes I know there are exceptions. But it's going to be a challenge for him to absorb the intricacies of an NFL playbook and nuances of the position.

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7 hours ago, King P said:

I love how people do the same thing they complain about. Only person that's making this racial is you.

Any QB can get injured whether they run or not. Theres no actual mathematic equation. Rosen got hurt more Lamar, and he's a damn statue.

I dont have a problem with a QB running as long as they do it responsibly. I've watched Lamar alot and although he does run quite a bit, he's become a smart runner. Alot of the times he takes what the defense gives him.

If you want to say he needs to become a better passer, fine (he's still a work in progress). But the whole "he runs too much" is silly to me"

There is only one reason your defending his draft position, and based on your posting history, and repping history, we know why..... But I digress.....

Simple math.... running in the NFL is not the same as running in college. The defenses are far bigger and far faster. You run constantly as an NFL QB, you WILL get hurt. 

When looking at any QB who runs as a big part of their offensive production, you have to ask, how will they be when they can't use running as a weapon, because its inevitable. If they can still be an effective passer, great, if not, it has to hurt their draft stock. Simple math.

 

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