In the run-up to the NFL Scouting Combine, a small but vocal group of analysts have suggested that two-time Heisman Trophy finalist (and one-time winner) Lamar Jackson shift at the next level from quarterback, the position he mastered in college, to wide receiver.
ESPN’s Bill Polian has been the loudest voice in that crowd, but that line of thinking hasn’t been limited to the media. Per NFL.com, “multiple NFL teams” have asked Jackson to work out at receiver.
Well, Jackson, it seems, is not having it.
At his Combine press conference Friday, Jackson said repeatedly that he is a quarterback and only a quarterback and that he won’t play for a team that hopes to shift him to receiver.
Lamar Jackson, making it as clear as humanly possible. pic.twitter.com/v7K8sQwf3J
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) March 2, 2018
It’s fairly ridiculous we’re even having this conversation about a dude who threw for more than 7,000 yards during his final two college seasons (in addition to rushing for more than 3,000). Jackson isn’t a perfect pro prospect, but surely he deserves at least a chance to prove himself as an NFL quarterback.
In a league starved for signal-callers, the idea that anyone could dismiss a guy with his pedigree seems pretty silly, and the more “running quarterback” gets tossed around like a slur when referring to someone who threw 69 college touchdowns, the more you have to wonder whether racial bias is affecting the discourse around Jackson.
Jackson, to his credit, seemed to be taking the whole thing pretty lightly. Asked Friday whether he felt disrespected by the suggestion that he move to receiver, he smiled and said, “I thought I did a good job at quarterback.” Still, it has to be tough for him to answer 20 straight questions about playing receiver while other quarterbacks get lobbed softball questions about hard work and will to win.
Presumably, this will all pass, and Jackson will be picked within the first round or two next month by a team interested in him as a quarterback. Then he’ll get his opportunity to show what position he really belongs at.