Lamar Jackson is the Rodney Dangerfield of the 2018 NFL combine, because he can't get no respect. Jackson, a former Heisman Trophy winner who is considered a likely first- or second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is a quarterback.
And yet, multiple teams, according to a report from Peter Schrager of "Good Morning Football", want Jackson to test at the combine as a wide receiver. Jackson, when he spoke at the combine, denied that report and said he plans to be "strictly [a] quarterback."
Lamar Jackson: “No teams have asked me to play WR. Strictly quarterback.”— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) March 2, 2018
Jackson added that "no teams have asked me to play wide receiver" and he does not "even know where it comes from."
Asked if he would switch, he said "No sir, I'm a quarterback." He also pointed out, "I thought I did a good job at quarterback" while at Louisville.
He's not wrong. And the logic here -- of the reported request to test at wide receiver or switch to receiver -- is specious at best.
Essentially, because Jackson is fast and capable of ripping off explosive plays with the ball in his hands, teams are thinking he could potentially shift positions. Additionally factoring in: Jackson's lack of accuracy, with the former Louisville quarterback completing just 59.1 percent of his passes.
These factors, along with Jackson's "short" and "slight" frame, also led to former Colts GM before the draft.
All of it ignores a couple of things.
For starters, Jackson is currently a first- or second-round prospect. He's going to go early in the draft ... as a quarterback. If he switches to a position he's never played before at the combine, it's going to have a negative impact on his draft stock. Maybe he still ends up going high as a QB/WR combo or as a guy willing to play some wide receiver, but he never caught a pass at Louisville. It would not be some simple transition.
And, additionally, all the complaints people have about Jackson -- size, accuracy -- also apply to other guys in this draft. For instance, Josh Allen, who people continue to fawn over in this process, completed 56.2 percent of his passes at Wyoming. He's not being asked to work out at a different position.
LaMar Jackson being asked to work out as a wide receiver at the NFL Combine.— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) March 2, 2018
I’d say: “No thank you. Why isn’t Josh Allen working out with the tight ends? I’m good.”
Jackson is also taller than Baker Mayfield, who checked in at just over six feet tall. Jackson is 6'2" -- which meets the minimum requirement for Hue Jackson and most other evaluators at the position.
There is an argument here that Jackson should probably do whatever potential employers want him to do. But we've seen plenty of quarterbacks -- hello, Tim Tebow -- who were steadfast in their refusal to switch positions before, during or after the draft process. That's their prerogative and the idea that a team doesn't view you as a quarterback could be a good reason not to play for that team.
If I’m LJ and a team asked me to work out at WR, I wouldn’t want to play for that team. It’s insulting. Additionally, asserting that he can improve and develop (like any pro prospect) shouldn’t be controversial. Can your brain handle this nuanced tweet?— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 2, 2018
Jackson has had a lot of success at the quarterback position in his career, and showed nice pocket development during the 2017 season, even though he had less accolades showered on him because Louisville struggled more.