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Heisman: What Lamar Jackson must do to become franchise QB


Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, and he's the youngest player ever to win the award. There's already been plenty of forecasting about what kind of pro he'll be, even though he won't be eligible for the NFL draft until 2018, at the earliest. Before he gets to that point, here are some things he needs to focus on to put himself in the best position to be viewed by scouts as a franchise QB.




Jackson has completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes in both of his seasons at Louisville. To be considered a high-level passer, he needs to be completing at least 60-65 percent of his passes in a challenging offense where he's asked to push the ball down the field.

I think he's a better playmaker than quarterback at this point in his career. He's streaky when it comes to his passing ability, but he delivers plenty of "wow" plays. His big challenge is to become a more complete passer so that he can use all areas of the field in an efficient manner.

Pocket poise
He has to be able to understand how defenses are attacking him and use different options within passing concepts to defeat the defense. For instance, when teams are electing to blitz, does he have the ability to find a hot receiver? Does he have the ability to make checks at the line of scrimmage? Can he counter what the defense is doing with his knowledge and awareness within their system?

Scouts want to see experienced quarterbacks have ownership of the offense. They'll be watching to see if the coaching staff entrusts Jackson to make sure Louisville is always in the best play possible. He needs to own and master that offense to the point where scouts see him as a field general.

Ball security
Jackson had some problems with turnovers toward the end of the year (4 turnovers in regular-season finale vs. Kentucky). Turnovers are the deciding factor in most NFL games, and he has to make sure that he doesn't give the ball away. He's going to be a guy who uses his legs as well as his arm to win in the league, so he's going to take some hits. He has to be able to take care of the ball upon contact.

I believe Jackson (6-foot-3, 205 pounds, per school measurements) will need to bulk up a little bit. He needs to become more diligent in the weight room because he'll want to make sure that he's going to be durable and available for the long term. The comparisons to Mike Vick are valid, and with his frame, he could suffer some of the same things that Vick suffered from (injuries) during his career. Jackson can't change the frame of his body, but he can become stronger.

Jackson is only 19 years old, and he could be entering the league as a 21-year-old if he applies for and is granted early draft eligibility after next season. If an NFL team is considering handing the keys to an offense to someone so young, they want to see extraordinary leadership skills in that player. Now that everyone knows he's the Heisman Trophy winner, what kind of leader does he become? Can he lead Louisville higher when it comes to team achievements? How does he handle the attention that comes with being the Heisman Trophy winner? His maturity and leadership needs to be on display for scouts.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.



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