Took over the starting job for good in the fourth game of
his freshman season and ended the campaign by capturing 2015
Music City Bowl MVP honors after compiling 453 yards of total
offense - including a bowl-record 226 rushing yards - to go
along with four total touchdowns.
Accumulated 610 yards of total offense and eight combined
touchdowns in only one half of action during the 2016 season
opener against Charlotte.
Became the first player in FBS history with 3,500 yards passing
and 1,500 yards rushing in a season en route to becoming the
youngest player to win the Heisman Trophy in 2016, then topped
each of his yardage totals as a junior in 2017.
Became only the second player in FBS history and first non-senior
to accumulate 4,000 yards rushing and 9,000 passing yards in
Finished his career with 20 straight games with at least
one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown.
High-end NFL Player Comp(s): Michael Vick Low-end NFL Player Comp(s): Steve McNair
Best Scheme Fit: Either a spread
offense with heavy run-pass option (RPO) elements or an offense
similar to the one Gary Kubiak used to run with significant bootleg
action. Note: All times listed in parentheses
in strengths/weaknesses section reflect the start time on video
- via Draft Breakdown - that displays that skill/trait.
As good of an athlete as there is at the quarterback position
and among the best athletes in this draft class regardless of
Boasts the same kind of speed, explosiveness and elusiveness
as some of the NFL's best scatbacks (0:21, 0:42, 2:08, 2:59, 3:16, 6:21); dynamic runner who can create something out of
nothing with his athleticism. (0:18, 2:59, 3:29, 4:09, 10:09, 13:33)
Shows considerable poise in the pocket against the rush (0:44, 1:59, 3:03, 9:43, 9:44, 10:40); manipulates the pocket when
necessary and feels pressure in the pocket better than advertised.
(1:59, 4:16, 10:25, 12:10)
Occasionally flashes the ability to look off safety/linebacker
and move through progressions. (1:37, 1:42, 3:03, 3:20, 9:44)
Does not usually default into running mode at the first sign
of pressure and is very good at keeping his eyes downfield while
on the move (7:49, 9:01, 11:33); understands how his athleticism
benefits him passing as much as it does running. (2:33, 2:37)
College offense gave him good exposure to NFL passing fundamentals
(high-low reads, pro route concepts, etc.) than many current
draft-eligible quarterbacks get in college.
Was he used too much in college? Over his final full two
seasons as a starter, he amassed a total of 1,331 passing attempts
and rushing attempts, including 492 carries.
Will need to exercise more caution as a runner at the next
level and avoid situations in which he tries to deliver the
blow as a runner (0:24, 2:25, 3:17, 12:56) or otherwise comprising
positions. (0:57, 4:37, 7:14)
Struggles with bouts of inaccuracy (his feet are often too
close together when this happens), particularly on perimeter
passes from the pocket. (0:01, 0:21, 0:51, 1:29, 2:32, 3:03, 5:01, 6:10)
Too many instances in which he either didn't see as much
of the field as he should have or put too much faith in his
arm strength. (0:58, 5:22, 6:13, 7:22, 9:00, 13:51)
Tried to bail out of the pocket too early at times, especially
against opponents with high-end talent on the defensive line
(0:26, 3:09, 3:22); sometimes gave up too much ground while
waiting for something to open up downfield. (2:22, 5:03, 10:39)
Short-arm thrower who flicks the ball with his wrist more
than he passes it in a traditional manner.
Spent 8.4 percent (72 snaps) of his time under center in
General managers talk incessantly about adding/acquiring game-breaking
offensive talent that can dictate matchups just by their mere
presence on the field, then occasionally snub their noses at those
players around draft time because they don't fit a certain prototype.
For all of their usual faults (usually when it comes to accuracy
and general overall feel inside the pocket), quarterbacks like
Jackson can be worth their weight in gold because they open up
the playbook as much as for offensive play-callers as they limit
what defensive coordinators can dial up. Playing zone is almost
a must in order to keep 11 sets of eyes on him and disciplined
"mush rushes" are almost mandatory, meaning defenses
must often play conservatively and hope Jackson makes a mistake.
Most of the time, it is a running back or receiver - and a "generational"
talent such as Randy Moss or Adrian Peterson at that - who dictates
terms to the defense. It is incredibly rare to find a quarterback
who can do that. Vick was one of those players and Jackson could
very well be the next, but the reality is there has never been
a quarterback prospect - at least none I could find - who has
been asked to assume the kind of workload he has over the last
two seasons. (There are nearly 130 Division I football teams,
so consider how incredible it is that one quarterback could finish
inside the top 30 in pass attempts and rush attempts in the same
season. Jackson did so twice.)
Although he was fortunate to play for a coach like Bobby Petrino
at Louisville from the standpoint that most NFL concepts won't
be all that foreign to him, Jackson still has much work to do
in the passing game to realize his vast potential. He struggled
from time to time in college with linebackers and safeties baiting
him into throws, and that figures to be a trend that will only
occur more often in the NFL. When teams with talented defensive
lines like Clemson or North Carolina State were able to get pressure
on him with a disciplined four-man rush and had enough team speed
on the back end to somewhat contain Jackson, those were the games
in which he seemed a bit uneasy in the pocket and looked to escape
a second or two quicker. His accuracy is a bit hit-or-miss. The
Florida native will also need to learn when he has maximized a
running play in order to avoid the injury-prone tag that became
attached to Vick.
Pro football has been and probably will always be a game that
is won largely from the pocket, so it's important not to lose
track of that just because we are talking about an incredible
athlete. While Jackson still has plenty of room to grow in terms
of his footwork inside the pocket, he may be the most poised and
advanced passer of all the true game-breaking "mobile quarterbacks"
I can remember. Like all of the quarterbacks I've analyzed this
year with the exception of Josh Rosen, it would probably be best
for Jackson's development if he was able to treat 2018 as a redshirt
year. With that said, he's really not nearly the project some
might have you believe and could probably be ready to start sooner
than later. There are certain to be really high peaks and really
low valleys with him in the beginning if he is forced to start
in 2018 - to be expected from any rookie signal-caller - but I'd
rather work with him if I'm an offensive coordinator - or hate
to coach against him if I'm the defensive coordinator - than any
other blue-chip quarterback in this draft. Assuming he learns
how to protect himself better as a runner and finds a play-caller
willing to build an offense around his unique talents, Jackson
could very well be the poster boy for the next generation of NFL
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.