LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper say that Lamar Jackson probably needs to be moved to running back or wide receiver. Not that he couldn't be All Pro at those positions, mind you.
Jackson didn't light it up his last college game through the air, and now are discounting his draft stock. Some even say he's a third- or fourth-rounder. Count me as those who are in stunned disbelief. Sure, he has plenty of work to do in pocket-passing, but so do most of the "can't-miss" choices coming out of college. And even NFL combine work can't solve any mysteries. I saw Paxton Lynch just slay all the drills, including deep throws into a strong wind. Now the Broncos seem to have given up on him.
Jackson hits all the marks on attitude, character and work ethic. The other big bonus is this: While he learns to better read defense and pass from the pocket, he can change a game with some highlight-reel runs. So who should draft him and who will draft him?
The Cleveland Browns have two of the first four picks in the draft. They may want Josh Rosen from UCLA, a reach in my mind. They may trade down from the top pick to add a few more picks. The Broncos pick fifth, and John Elway knows quarterback talent when he sees it. Jackson could go there, if Denver isn't overly in love with Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. The Giants pick second and the Jets pick sixth. Eli Manning could teach Jackson the ropes for a couple years which would be perfect, like Brett Favre did for Aaron Rodgers. The Jets definitely need some electricity and a quarterback. Jackson would handle the Big Apple pressure with aplomb. He just doesn't rattle easily, but I'm assuming those teams will be enamored with someone else.
The Bengals might be looking for someone other than Andy Dalton by now at the No. 12 pick. But I think the most likely spot Jackson goes first is to Arizona. With Carson Palmer retiring, the Cardinals have Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert. Help! Jackson would be a perfect fit. If he slides by there, the Chargers might want to find a future replacement for Philip Rivers. But San Diego thinks it's close to competing for an AFC title, so an immediate starter is the more likely pick there.
The Bills have two first-round picks, Nos. 21 and 22. They are not going to go the distance with Tyrod Taylor. He's a nice backup. It couldn't hurt to spend one of those picks on Jackson.
Blake Bortles looked pathetic for the Jaguars in their playoff win over Buffalo on Sunday. He missed a couple short circle and crossing throws by wide margins to wide-open receivers. He managed to run well, but if you can settle for a quarterback who can't pass but can run, why wouldn't you see Jackson as a major step up?
My guess is Jackson could floor the scouts at the combine and go top ten, but I'm not convinced they will be convinced anyway. My predictions for the top three landing spots include a dream 5 slot to the Broncos, Arizona at 15, or the Bills at 21 or 22. If not, he may fall to the second round.
Two things are for sure: I can't wait to see Jackson's amazing athleticism in the NFL. And remember his high school video, where he threw the ball about 95 yards on Youtube? He will enter the league as the only QB who can throw a Hail Mary from around his own 15-yard line!
Scott Reynolds is the co-anchorman on WAVE 3 News at 5, 6 and 11, and writes occasional sports posts on WAVE3.com.