For the last few days, all I’ve been hearing about Lamar Jackson is how he is “strictly a QB.”
Sorry if I don’t exactly buy that.
The kid is a superb athlete.
And while, yes, he can throw the football very well, he was also a QB in Bobby Petrino’s “system” offense at Louisville.
Social Media has been ablaze with racial takes on NFL teams asking him to see him as a WR, or discussing how he wouldn’t even be drafted if he had Baker Mayfield’s off-field issues.
Here are a few examples of that:
Wonder if they’re asking Baker Mayfield to do WR drills at the combine like Lamar Jackson 🤷🏽♂️
— The Black Ari Gold (@jb_doe) March 3, 2018
White people insisting Lamar Jackson being asked to switch to WR isn’t a race thing is the new “I don’t see color” 💆🏼♀️ #itsaracething
— A. Miller (@amillz319) March 3, 2018
The fact that they’re even considering Lamar Jackson as a WR bothers me. A lot!
The man is a QB. You know of Lamar Jackson as a QB. Who would even have he audacity to consider another position for him? Horrible judgement.
— Lamar McKnight (@CoachMcKnightUC) March 3, 2018
If you think Lamar Jackson is a WR in the NFL you are an idiot😂😂😂
— Lanno (@SirLanno) March 3, 2018
I find it somewhat disrespectful that teams are asking Lamar Jackson to workout as a WR.
— Brianna Walker (@briannaSwalker) March 3, 2018
I really don’t know why people don’t do research before they start spouting off opinions.
If you’re going to talk on a subject, at least be educated about it. Organizations don’t make decisions based on emotions or feelings.
This has nothing to do with race.
This has to do with the fact that Lamar Jackson is a supremely gifted athlete that may not pan out as a quarterback in the NFL, but there are positions that he could play if quarterback doesn’t work out.
Here is a list of the last 10 Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks that have already been drafted:
- 2014 Marcus Mariota: with the Titans (Playoff record: 1-1)
- 2013 Jameis Winston: with the Bucs (no playoff appearances)
- 2012 Johnny Manziel: out of the league (no playoff appearances)
- 2011 Robert Griffin III: out of the league (Playoff record: 0-1)
- 2010 Cam Newton: with the Panthers (Playoff record: 3-4)
- 2008 Sam Bradford: with the Vikings (no playoff appearances)
- 2007 Tim Tebow: out of the league (Playoff record: 1-1)
- 2006 Troy Smith: out of the league (no playoff appearances)
- 2004 Matt Leinart: out of the league (no playoff appearances)
- 2003 Jason White: out of the league (no playoff appearances)
Just so we’ve got those stats correct, that’s a 5-7 playoff record, with Cam Newton accounting for 3 of the 5 wins, and 4 of the 7 losses.
Being a Heisman winning quarterback does anything but guarantee NFL success as a QB.
First, let’s break down the player numbers in the NFL. Bleacher Report has a great article from 2013 called “The Anatomy of a 53-man Roster in the NFL.“
Of the 53 players, only 46 can dress.
Currently, most teams only dress 2 QBs for gamedays, and their 3rd QB – the “emergency” QB – is generally a WR or RB.
2 QBs x 32 teams = 64 QB spots.
Obviously there are more that may make the active roster but don’t dress, that make the practice squad, etc. But if your goal is play in the league, there are 32 teams and 46 dressing roster spots on the each, which means 1,472 roster spots. Only 4.3% of the spots available in the NFL are for QBs.
Now, for WRs, that number changes.
Most teams will keep six wide receivers on the active roster but will only dress five for the game unless the sixth player is a warrior on special teams. This allows the coaching staff to line up in four-wide formations without losing speed or talent.
So, let’s roll with 5 WRs on each team.
5 WRs x 32 teams = 160 WR spots
Going back to our 1,472 roster spots, 10.9% of dressing spots are available for WRs.
That’s more than double.
So just based on numbers alone, Lamar Jackson should at least give WR a look.
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 212 lbs
Here are Lamar Jackson’s college numbers as a passer.
The numbers look good. 69 passing touchdowns, and 27 interceptions, in 3 seasons. Not quite 60% completion percentage, but close.
Now look at his rushing yards.
This dude ran for over 4000 yards in 3 seasons, and has 50 career rushing touchdowns.
But… there’s always a catch, right?
Here’s what he did against Clemson, Florida State, and the SEC teams he faced.
Rushing numbers still look good – 1600+ yards and 15 TDs in 12 games – but the passing numbers look a little suspect. 18 TDs to 13 INTs. Just over 50% passing.
That’s the level of defense he’ll be facing every week in the NFL.
This isn’t a racist thing to ask an extremely athletic QB to switch positions in the NFL.
Here are 5 examples of players that played QB in college football, but moved to WR in the NFL.
Height: 6’4″ Weight: 240 lbs
Ohio St QB Terrelle Pryor was, ultimately, one of 5 players that committed NCAA violations at Ohio St, which ultimately cost national title winning coach Jim Tressell his job with the Buckeyes.
But Pryor was fantastic as a QB.
Higher QBR than Jackson, higher completion percentage, 1 fewer interception, and he didn’t play in nearly as high-flying an offensive system as Jackson.
Before last season, Pryor had gotten one year (2013) with real snaps at QB – with Oakland – and threw 7 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games played.
In 2016, he made a successful conversion to WR with the Cleveland Browns, exceeding 1000 receiving yards, and signed a 1 year, $8M contract with the Redskins before last season, before being injured.
Antwaan Randle El
Height: 5’10” Weight: 185 lbs
Randle El played QB for 4 years at Indiana, and was a dynamic playmaker on a bad football team.
Almost 7500 yards, decent QBR, TD to INT ratio wasn’t great, and this was before the “spread” started taking over the sport.
44 rushing TDs and almost 4000 rushing yards. Still not up to what Jackson did, but, again, different offensive system. Can’t just look at numbers here.
Randle El played 9 years in the NFL and threw a total of 27 passes, completing 22 of them. He amassed 370 receptions for over 4400 yds in stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Washington Redskins.
Height: 5’10” Weight: 198 lbs
Edelman, now a big name WR with the New England Patriots, was a 3 year starting QB at Kent St.
I won’t lie – the numbers aren’t great. But he was the QB. Threw for almost 5000 yards in 3 seasons, 30 TDs, but he had a low QBR and 31 INTs.
He was clearly a dynamic play-maker, though, as evidenced by what he was able to do running the football. Nearly 2500 yards rushing, 22 TDs… and before he came into the NFL, he had only 1 reception.
In 8 seasons with the Patriots, he has not thrown a single pass, and has 425 receptions, 4,540 yards, and 24 TDs.
Height: 6’2″ Weight: 213 lbs
Ahhh yes. You probably forgot about Brad Smith, right?
He started at QB at Missouri for 4 years, back when they were in the Big 12.
Nearly 9,000 yards passing, with 56 TDs and 32 INTs, and a 56.3% completion percentage. Dude was a stud.
Smith rushed for almost 4200 yards with 44 TDs. He was as dynamic a playmaker as you could get, at the time, and he went into the NFL as a jack-of-all-trades.
Just take a look at his career stats in the league.
Kick returner, wide receiver, running back… whatever a team needed, he would do it, and he turned that into a 9 year career.
Height: 6’6″ Weight: 222 lbs
Arkansas’s Matt Jones was an absolute freak athlete for Houston Nutt’s Razorbacks.
He started for 3 seasons, and led the Razorbacks to an SEC West Championship and 2 bowl games.
His stats were not insane, but they were incredibly respectable. 53 TDs, 30 INTs, and 5800+ yards passing.
But this is where he turned heads.
2500+ yards rushing, 24 TDs, and an average of 6.6 yards per carry.
His measurables were through the roof at the NFL combine, and he was drafted in the 1st round by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Jones played for 4 seasons, only attempted 3 passes (all in his first season), and had 166 receptions for 2,153 yards and 15 TDs before drug problems cut his career short.