Lamar Jackson’s showing at the NFL scouting combine was largely uneventful. He didn’t participate in any drills but the throwing session, and it was a mixed bag. Though we haven’t seen a full workout from the Louisville product, we all know what he brings to the table athletically.
While Jackson isn’t the top quarterback available in the 2018 NFL Draft, he does have a lot of the intangibles teams are looking for. His throwing needs work, but if he develops, he could be a special talent. As of now, he’s expected to land somewhere between the middle of the first and middle of the second round.
Here’s a look at his five best NFL fits.
The Miami Dolphins need depth at the quarterback spot and could use a developmental guy behind Ryan Tannehill. Tannehill missed the 2017 season after undergoing knee surgery, but should be ready for OTAs. That said, unless he restructures his contract or has a major uptick in production, the Fins could be looking to move on soon.
Jackson is an intriguing athlete and head coach Adam Gase has a reputation for developing quarterbacks. At worst, the Dolphins could use him as a package player early on and attempt to turn him into a tradable asset.
Miami has the 11th pick in the draft and are unlikely to use it on Jackson. But if he’s on the board in the second round (pick No. 42), the Dolphins could jump on him.
The Cincinnati Bengals have gotten stale. Andy Dalton will never be a star at the quarterback position and it might be time for something new. Enter Jackson, a dynamic athlete who can make plays out of nothing.
Dalton is under contract through 2020, but with A.J. McCarron hitting free agency, the Bengals need depth immediately. Jackson could sit behind Dalton and work on his passing while also working his way into games in package situations.
Andy Dalton won’t win you a Super Bowl. If developed correctly and given a chance, Jackson might be that kind of player. It could be worth a shot in Cincy. The Bengals have the 12th and 46th overall picks in the draft.
The Arizona Cardinals are a team in transition, and they currently have zero quarterbacks under contract for 2018. While they’ll certainly attempt to lure a top free agent to the desert, drafting the future face of the franchise seems like a far more likely outcome.
New head coach Steve Wilks spent the last six seasons with the Carolina Panthers. He’s well aware of how much having an athletic quarterback can help a team. Jackson doesn’t have Cam Newton’s arm or size, but he’s an even better runner and has the intangibles Newton sometimes neglects to show.
The Cardinals have the 15th and 47th picks in the draft, spots where taking Jackson could be justified.
The Bills need a ton of help on offense, so a guy who threw for 9,043 yards and rushed for 4,132 more while totaling 119 touchdowns is appealing. Jackson also did all of that in just three collegiate seasons.
It’s obvious the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner will need some work, but the Bills are desperate for offensive playmakers to help star running back LeSean McCoy. Jackson is a playmaker with big-time upside.
Buffalo already owns the 21st and 22nd picks in the first-round this year. That means they could take a risk on a guy like Jackson with one of those picks and still fill a need with the other.
The Denver Broncos need new blood at quarterback, as Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian aren’t getting the job done. John Elway has shown he’s willing to take risks at the position before and Jackson would certainly be that.
With a top defense and playmakers on the perimeter, the Broncos could bring Jackson in and protect him. A good defense and skilled players on offense take tons of pressure off young quarterbacks. That would allow Jackson to develop while playing week-to-week.
The Broncos have the fifth and 40th picks in the draft. They could take the best player available at five and pray Jackson drops to them in the second. Denver is also in a prime spot to trade down near the top of the draft and stockpile picks. Jackson could come from that group of picks.