Remember when former NFL executive Bill Polian suggested that LaMar Jackson was better suited as a wide receiver than an NFL QB and everybody lost their minds? The comment was reminiscent of an NFL that we thought was long gone, where bigoted, racist and outdated ideals were utilized by oldschool general managers to stifle and discredit the progression of Black quarterbacks.
Lamar Jackson is dealing with the same tired analysis that other QBs have experienced: https://t.co/qE84cWAy8M
Back in March, The Shadow League's Alejandro Danois wrote this about Polian's absurd suggestion which contributed to the dynamic quarterback's plummeting draft stock:
"I've long dismissed the idiotic talk from the so-called Draft experts regarding their evaluations of Louisville's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson. Their cocksure analysis amuses me, especially coming from the likes of Mel Kiper, Jr., ESPN's go-to talking head when it comes to evaluating college players."
Well, it seems that the Baltimore Ravens, who selected Jackson with the 32nd pick of the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft, think Polian's absurd pre-draft assessment of Jackson has some validity to it. Jackson may eventually become the next Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick or Cam Newton, but while he learns the ropes and backs up Joe Flacco, the Ravens will be using him more like Kordell Stewart or old Jets multi-purpose QB Brad Smith.
So far, Jackson has been lining up at different positions as the team figures out ways to capitalize on his athleticism (There's that word again).
Lamar Jackson has lined up at multiple positions with Joe Flacco at QB, per @jamisonhensley https://t.co/TjELUKlEe8
What part of the game is this?
On Tuesday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said the offensive staff has "worked hard" to generate creative ways for Jackson to make an impact while Flacco remains the starting QB, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com.
"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," Harbaugh said. "If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."
We hope this really is a case of having too much talent at quarterback and not a plan to stunt Jackson's rise to All-Pro QB.
In April, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com passed along comments from coaches and scouts about the top QB prospects, and one was quick to throw shade on Jackson's passing potential.
"He's an awesome athlete. He will not be able to play (quarterback) in this league—mark my words," the offensive coordinator said. "When he throws, he hopes."
Early criticisms of his accuracy in camp only fuel the flames. Jackson can’t seem to shake the stereotypes and primitive obsession with his athleticism. While it would seem more logical to utilize Jackson’s multiplicity of tools at the quarterback position, Harbaugh feels that the possibility of him running, catching AND throwing would make him a weapon that Baltimore could utilize immediately.
Prior to the Draft, Jackson basically lets NFL GMs know that they shouldn’t draft him if they planned on trying to change his position.
"That's crazy," he told reporters about a potential position change at the 2018 NFL Scouting Combine in March. "I thought I did a good job at quarterback. I thought I did. You know? But, hey, they say what they want to say. I'm here now. I'm happy to be here. Now I just have to show my ability."
QB Lamar Jackson said no team has asked him to take part in receiver drills. "I'm a quarterback," he said. He has no plans to change. #NFLCombine
In order to show his ability this season, Jackson may have to be open to the idea of expanding his offensive responsibilities a bit. Jackson is playing the good Samaritan right now and trying not to disrupt the locker room before the preseason even begins.
"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said, per Hensley. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."
A lot can change between now and Aug. 2 when the Ravens open against the Chicago Bears in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, but when Baltimore talked to Jackson about how they planned to use him this season, he probably went home and took a baseball bat to something.
It's got to be frustrating the way his effectiveness as a quarterback is still being ignored. In Jackson's mind, he probably felt like he was going to compete for the starting job.
Ravens in awe of Lamar Jackson, their 'young Michael Vick': https://t.co/ECq8g6WsJq
The Ravens say they are "amazed" with Jackson in camp and once he gets out the pocket he's dominating.
"Every time he runs I’m in awe because most people -- especially a quarterback -- can’t move the way he does," wide receiver Chris Moore said after the Ravens' first day of mandatory minicamp. "So you just know that this year he’s going to make some plays, for sure."
That sounds great, but as far as Jackson's development as a quarterback goes, B-More could also be making a huge mistake with this move. After all of the discussion about how it's primitive, outdated and disrespectful to make a Black Heisman winning quarterback switch positions, Baltimore has immediately stunted Jackson’s growth with this supposed new multi-position role and subjected him to potential injury.
Jackson is not a running back or a wideout. He’s never even played those positions before. We have no idea how he will perform. We do know, however, that he has the skills to pay the bills and can excel at a high level at the position of QB. Jackson’s been compared to Vick because of his blend of speed, athleticism, and his powerful throwing arm. Also because he is unique and if utilized correctly -- as a quarterback -- can probably do things we've rarely seen on an NFL field. If he never gets a chance to prove it, how sad would that be?