Browns potential draft target: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns have the No. 1 overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft and need a quarterback. Can Louisville’s Lamar Jackson be the answer the team is looking for?
The Cleveland Browns made NFL history in 2017 by becoming the first team to earn the No. 1 overall selection in the draft for two consecutive years.
Now that the Browns have that pesky detail out of the way, they can turn their attention to what they will do once they are officially on the clock the night of April 26 in Arlington, Texas.
More than likely, general manager John Dorsey will use that top pick on a quarterback as he becomes the latest front office member to take on the task of fixing the team’s quarterback issue.
While not everyone has declared just yet, the choices facing Dorsey will include UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, USC’s Sam Darnold and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.
Browns fans can get a look at Jackson on Saturday when he leads the Cardinals against Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl, which will kick off at 12 p.m. on ESPN.
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Jackson, a 6-foot-3 and 210 pound (but looks lighter) junior, won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and followed that up by completing 60.4 percent of his passes, while throwing for 3,489 yards, 25 touchdowns against just six interceptions. And, oh by the way, he also rushed for 1,,443 yards and added 17 rushing touchdowns.
That gave Jackson consecutive seasons with more than 3,400 passing yards and more than 1,400 rushing yards, which is pretty good. His past two seasons, with 10,046 yards from scrimmage and 93 combined touchdowns, is only a tick off what quarterback Deshaun Watson did his final two years at Clemson (10,436 yards from scrimmage and 97 combined touchdowns) and we all saw what Watson did this season with the Houston Texans.
While not as accurate as you would probably like, this season was the first time that Jackson’s completion percentage topped 60 percent, there is no doubting his ability to put up big numbers and points on the board.
The question, of course, is whether or not Jackson’s game can transfer to the NFL level, especially if he doesn’t put on some bulk, as one AFC front office person told ESPN:
"“The physical abilities are off the charts. Huge arm, incredible speed. Just an athlete, plain and simple. You’d like to see more consistent accuracy from the pocket, but that can be cleaned up with some work on his mechanics. The big concern is whether he can hold up if he does as much running at the next level.”"
Jackson would bring a level of excitement to the quarterback position that has been lacking for a long time in Cleveland, but it is fair to wonder if head coach Hue Jackson is the guy to clean up the flaws in Lamar Jackson’s mechanics.
We’re still five months away from the draft, so there will be plenty of time to break down Jackson’s game in the coming months.
Next: Browns potential draft target: USC's Sam Darnold
In the meantime, Saturday afternoon’s TaxSlayer Bowl will be another chance to see what Jackson can do on the big stage