Jason Whitlock on Lamar Jackson: ‘To me, he’s a second or third round pick’

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DeAngelo Hall and Matt Leinert join Colin Cowherd and Jason Whitlock to discuss whether Lamar Jackson is worthy of a first round pick.

- Whitlock, is Jackson, to you, worthy of a first round pick?

- This will sound like criticism, but it's not. I wouldn't take him in the first round. Look, Drew Brees went in the second round. Brett Favre went in the second round. Tom Brady went in the sixth round. Russell Wilson went in the third round.

I think there are too many questions about Lamar Jackson for-- to go first round. And it starts with the management choice and not going with an agent. And it goes from there just in terms of thinness and if he's going to run in the NFL. You run into the lion's den, there's too many lions over there. You're going to get popped. He's not Cam Newton. He's not going to survive that.

So to me, he's a second or third round pick. I certainly give him an opportunity to play quarterback in the NFL. But I don't go first round.

- Well, I think he's a project. Two quarterbacks in this draft, to me, are projects, Josh Allen, who has a huge arm but is inaccurate.

- And could go top five.

- Yeah. And Lamar Jackson. They're not ready to play right now. Now, I think Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Baker can come in and play. I like Darnold more than the three, but they can play.

- Baker Mayfield, not on your draft board?

- I don't love him, no. But I see him as Case Keenum.

- Got you.

- But I think Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson have one thing that I can't get away from. They were inaccurate college throwers. Windows get smaller, the DBs get better, the coverages get more complex. So to me, he's a project.

I believe first rounders, I got to open up the wallet. You got to play. I'm not sitting guys I'm drafting ninth. You've got to start. If I'm bringing D'Angelo in, you're our two corner. I'd like you to be number one by the end of next year. So I'm not--

By the way, Josh Allen and Lamar are both going to go first round. And I think Josh Allen's going to be the most over-drafted player by a mile in this draft.

- I think you make a point. I don't-- I don't think it matters if he goes first round or second round. I think he's-- I think he's a few years away from really developing.

I will say this about Lamar Jackson and just watching him play the last three years. And a big difference from Josh Allen. Josh Allen, last two years, 56% both years, horrible. He didn't even make all-conference. But I'm not knocking him. He's a big physical guy. And he could be good.

Lamar Jackson went from 54% to 56% to 59% in three years. So he improved every single year. And on top of that, as a quarterback he got probably-- he was probably coached by the toughest quarterback coach in, maybe, college football in Bobby Petrino. Bobby Petrino runs a pro-style offense, the pro-style concepts. So that was something Lamar Jackson has been learning.

Now obviously, you have to take that. You have to take those concepts, learn, and be able to play at the speed of the NFL level. That's going to happen.

But he is prepped more than Josh Allen going into the NFL. And on top of that, again, I said earlier, but the way these offenses are shifting with the RPO and getting the ball out fast, that is-- that's Lamar Jackson, that's Baker Mayfield, guys that you-- you can-- you can-- in quarterback rooms, to make it easier, you always cut the field in half. You keep a, you know, cover two, you look this way, single high safety, you look one way. And you just go one, two, three check down. So you really simplify it as a quarterback.

That probably would be done for guys that come out of those types of systems, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson. But that's the way we saw Nick Foles kind of do that in the playoff run, the RPOs, getting the ball out quick.

I love Lamar Jackson. I think he's got a lot of talent. And on top of that, he's probably the best athlete in the draft next to maybe Saquon Barkley. I mean, the kid-- the kid's special. Gave him some time, and he could be really good.

- Yeah. I mean, I'm with Matt here. I definitely think Lamar Jackson's a first round talent. Will he sit? Yes, he will. He will sit, because I envision him going a place that allows him to sit.

If you force him to play right away, then you're going to struggle a little bit. You're going to struggle. You talk about the inconsistencies-- the inconsistencies throwing the ball downfield some. But that's not the role I see him right now.

I see him like, you said, him been a project, a kid who sits for a year or two and really understands. It's not really the offenses. You talked about Petrino. I played under him. He is a offensive mastermind.

So I think Lamar Jackson is more pro ready when it comes to offensive schemes than the next guy. It's the defenses and reading them that's going to give him a little bit of pause.

- He has two big advantages. If you watch what the Bears are doing with Trubisky, it's a lot of college stuff. If you watch Tennessee and Mariota, it's a lot of college stuff. It is now accepted. It's working. We're going to--

- No, it's accepted. I don't know if it's working.

- OK, that's fair. The other thing-- the other thing-- because I think Lamar's going to-- it's going to eventually work if he gets the right system. The other thing is, Bobby's an NFL coach. You know, Josh Rosen had a defensive guy. The Wyoming guy didn't have an NFL guy. The one thing Lamar's got going for him, he is used to an NFL language, an NFL barker, the NFL. Petrino's intense.

- And demands.

- He's not a college coach. Bobby doesn't put his arm around you. Bobby demands. So Lamar's like, he hears the barking, oh, that's what I just dealt with for three years. So I think he has an advantage over Josh Allen in that sense. He had an NFL college coach.

- Best case scenario to me, based off of this conversation, it makes me think double down on-- if the Patriots get him, that's the ideal situation.

- Yes. Sit behind Tom Brady.

- Two years.

- Belichick and Josh McDaniels coach him up. And I think they figure out a way to use him early in his career in a different way than just playing quarterback. Please go to New England.