Getting To Know Buffalo Bills 2018 QB Options: Lamar Jackson


In my first installment of “Getting To Know Buffalo Bills 2018 QB Options”, I chose the 2016 Heisman winner, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson.

Jackson finished his sophomore season with 3543 passing yards with 30 touchdowns to just nine interceptions.  He also gained an astonishing 1571 rushing yards with, wait for it, 21 rushing touchdowns.  While his rushing statistics are not only impressive but remarkable, I wanted to analyze him as a passer.

A move to the NFL normally lowers a player’s rushing numbers with bigger and faster defenses than in college.  Jackson will need to be a tremendous passer to succeed in the NFL.  I looked at three of Jackson’s most intriguing games against solid opponents (Florida State W 63-20, Clemson L 42-36, and Houston L 10-36) using and had provided links to the games.

vs. Florida State: Jackson Shines On The National Stage

Draft Breakdown

Jackson made his Heisman statement in his third game last season when his team hosted Florida State and smacked them in the mouth.  They ran over what was at the time the second ranked team in the nation and Jackson finished the day going 13 for 20 for 216 yards and a touchdown and an interception.  He also rushed 17 times for 146 yards and four touchdowns.

Jackson’s rushing ability was on display, and he did not disappoint.  His elusiveness and brilliant speed led him to break loose for multiple huge gains against a highly talented defense.  The importance of his elusiveness can’t be understated as Jackson rarely takes the full brunt of hits.  If he is tackled, he is often tripped up.

As a running quarterback, Jackson will be hit more often than a prototypical pocket passer, and his durability will heavily rely on his ability to avoid big hits.

Jackson showcased short and intermediate passing accuracy and an underrated arm strength.  His arm is strong, and it shows in the velocity of his passes into traffic.  He delivers the ball hard and accurately to his receivers on ins, outs, and slants.

His deep ball accuracy isn’t quite there though.  Lamar missed his deep throws both too far and too short.  Early in the game, Jackson had a wide open receiver on a corner route but led him too far towards the sideline.  Also, on a fade route when the game was already decided, Jackson underthrew his receiver, and it resulted in an interception and a touchback for Florida State.

Overall, Jackson was the most talented player on the field and embarrassed Florida State using all the tools in his repertoire.  He played a nearly flawless game in his first real game in the spotlight.

@ Clemson: Jackson Falls Just Short, But Plays Well

Draft Breakdown

Jackson struggled to deal with the pressure that the Clemson front brought against him in this game.  His line was not providing him time, and he didn’t get going until late in the first quarter.  He didn’t feel the rush very well and often moved in the pocket towards the pressure rather than avoiding it.

Jackson still showed his amazing talent in both short and intermediate accuracy, arm strength and athleticism.  He led his team with 295 yards passing and three touchdowns thrown, but also led his team in rushing with 31 carries for 162 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.  He was incredible throughout the game and showed his ability to succeed even against a team full of NFL talent and the eventual national champion.

@ Houston: Louisville Gets Crushed By The Cougars

Draft Breakdown

In order to truly judge a quarterback, sometimes it is best to look at the games where nothing seemed to go right for their team.  That game for Lamar Jackson and Louisville was when they traveled to Houston last November.

It was a game where everything went wrong for the Cardinals early, and it was pretty much over by halftime.  The Cougars blitzed Lamar early and often and kept him under pressure throughout the whole game.

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Jackson also was unable to break loose in the run game as he was held to just 33 yards on 25 rushes.  The Cougars did well to contain him using effective quarterback spies and pursuit.  Jackson was forced to become a one dimensional quarterback.

As a passer in this game, setting the final score of 36-10 aside, Jackson was effective.  His less than 50% completion percentage doesn’t look great, but that doesn’t take into account the number of drops his receivers had on Jackson’s passes.  With their early lead, Houston was also able to play a prevent defense due to which Jackson was unable to effectively use a vertical passing game.

With all this factors against him, Jackson protected the ball, was decisive, and even threw a touchdown pass on the run after eluding an effective Houston pass rush.  His team had an off day and you could argue that he did as well, but Jackson in one of his worst games still was the only bright spot for the Louisville Cardinals.

Overall, Jackson can improve on a few things as any young quarterback should.  He can be better with deep ball accuracy.  He misses them both too short and too far.  He also can better feel the pressure in the pocket and move to an area safer.  Too often he moves into the pressure resulting in a sack.

Jackson has the makeup of a unique talent with NFL capabilities.  I do not see him needing a position change to play in the NFL.  He has the decision-making and the arm talent to be an effective NFL quarterback with a dual threat ability that may be superior to any in the league today.  Currently, Jackson should have a first round grade, not yet top five, but he could certainly play himself into that consideration just as he played his was to a Heisman trophy.

Next: Buffalo Bills: Week 1 fantasy football outlook

With Florida State losing their top quarterback, Jackson and the Cardinals should also have National Championship aspirations and Jackson will then also have the ability to impress on college football’s greatest stage.