Former Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback Michael Vick was inarguably the most exciting offensive football player in the NFL since the day Barry Sanders retired.
Vick couldn’t be stopped. He could hardly be contained. He wasn’t a perfect passer, but he was as explosive of a weapon under center that an offensive coordinator could ever dream of coaching.
2018 NFL Draft prospect Lamar Jackson may offer NFL coaches the same kind of traits. According to Vick, Jackson is the one player who reminds him of himself.
“If I’ve ever seen another guy that looks like me, it’s been Lamar Jackson,” Vick told the Courier-Journal.
In fact, last season Vick tweeted that Jackson was five times better than he was at the same point in their college careers.
Lamar Jackson 5x better than what I was at V-Tech….Enough said!! #future
— Mike Vick (@MikeVick) September 17, 2016
Vick explained his tweet to the Courier-Journal.
“I said that because he made it look so easy,” Vick said. “Maybe I made it look easy, too, but now I’m on the other side and have the chance to watch younger guys. I just gave him a lot of credit, and I wouldn’t say it was more credit than he deserved because he deserves a lot, but at the same time it was coming from a guy who revolutionized the position, so to speak.”
Jackson is a polarizing draft prospect. He already has a wide range of grades from draft analysts, but I think he’ll settle in as a first-round pick, and a high one at that, by season’s end.
He currently rates fifth among draft-eligible quarterbacks on my preseason rankings. That’s not a knock against him, as he also has a first-round grade. This year’s class of quarterbacks is loaded, and there’s not much separating the top prospect from a guy like Jackson at No. 5.
Jackson could easily be the first player drafted next April, much like Vick was in the 2001 NFL Draft. Vick began his career with questions about his ability to mature into an NFL passer, which he proved capable of doing during the second-half of his career.
If Jackson has the kind of supreme production this season that he enjoyed in 2016, NFL front offices will be foolish to assume he can’t make a similar impact in the NFL. His arm is strong enough to make every throw, and his accuracy isn’t a lost cause. When factoring his rare — absolutely undeniably rare — ability as a runner, his potential matches that of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Don’t find reasons to dislike Jackson as a prospect. Instead, marvel at what he does brilliantly. He’s going to keep defensive coordinators up at night once he arrives in the NFL.