The New England Patriots need to find their eventual successor to quarterback Tom Brady, and that process will begin with the 2018 NFL Draft.
This draft will have tons of quarterback talent, both in Round 1 and deep into the middle rounds. While it makes the most sense for the Patriots to address more immediate in Round 1 and Round 2, there are some players that would just be too good to pass up. Lamar Jackson is one of those players.
Some scouts have actually wanted to see Jackson workout as a wide receiver, but there are still plenty of teams that view him as an actual QB. As always, there are teams that desperately need quarterbacks and a few that are also looking for their next successor. Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen are viewed as the top 3, but Lamar Jackson is paired with Baker Mayfield right behind them.
Ahead of the Patriots, the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Minnesota Vikings could all be in play for selecting a quarterback. That leaves a slim chance that Lamar Jackson falls to New England with the 31st overall pick, but there is still a chance.
Some teams may pass over Lamar Jackson, and teams like the Saints or Steelers may look for a QB in the middle rounds as their starters are still in place. Right now, the Buffalo Bills make a lot of sense to select Jackson at number 21 or 22, but they have other needs as well.
If Lamar Jackson is available when the Patriots make the 31st pick, they shouldn’t hesitate to select him at all.
While Lamar Jackson does not live up to the prototypical quarterback in the NFL, he is a freak athlete that has the ability to make plays and win ball games. The biggest knock on Jackson is his poor completion percentage, but he actually got better each year at Louisville. In 2016, he won the Heisman Trophy with one of the NCAA’s worst offensive lines. He’s electric and can turn plays that would go for a loss, into big plays or touchdowns. Just look at what NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein had to say about Lamar in his scouting report.
“Evaluating Jackson against the NFL standards for the position will cause him to come up short. However, he has rare speed and athleticism and can single-handedly win games. Jackson’s accuracy is clearly spotty and teams must decide the level of accuracy they are willing to live with relative to his ability to create explosive plays. Jackson may need to operate in an offense ready to integrate RPOs (run/pass options) along with heavy play-action. Like Deshaun Watson in 2017, Jackson has the ability to counter mental mistakes and turnovers with a high number of explosive, touchdown-making plays. He has star potential, but his success will rest heavily upon his ability to stay healthy.”
If Lamar Jackson is anywhere close to the player that DeShaun Watson has shown he can be in the NFL, the Patriots would be wise to take him in the first round. While his legs are a huge asset, don’t knock Jackson’s ability to throw the football. While he doesn’t have the best arm strength, he can make accurate throws underneath and in the medium range in order to succeed in the league. With a few years under Tom Brady’s wings, that arm strength may even improve to be able to deliver an accurate deep ball every once in a while. The Patriots, of course, would also look to build around Jackson’s strengths. They won’t be set on keeping the Brady-style of offense forever.
Again, Lamar Jackson may not even be available by the time the New England Patriots make their first selection. If he is though, he undoubtedly has to be their pick at #31.