Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Bills need a starting quarterback following the exodus of Tyrod Taylor and the atrocity that was Nathan Peterman. I considered the avenue of defending A.J. McCarron, but that is a difficult path to blaze. He lacks ideal arm strength. He has a weak NFL resume. Yes, he played well in three out of four games but that was a few years ago and he lost his playoff game. To be clear, I think A.J. is a fine quarterback who has probably earned his shot at the big time, but I will not be the one to give it to him. The Bills are a fringe playoff team with mediocre quarterbacking. The team and the fans alike deserve to see what they might be with game-changer Lamar Jackson at quarterback.
Before diving in on what Jackson provides, let me paint the picture with alternatives. The Bills are deficient on both lines. Dawkins is a fine tackle (who gets extra points for his name). Beyond him, the offensive line is fully manned with mediocre players following Richie Incognito’s retirement (which was announced following my commitment to my pick). The two starting defensive tackles are 34-year-old Kevin Williams and new signee Star Loutelli. While Loutelli has displayed impressive NFL talent, he has been injured and ineffective of late. Although these positions are considerations, cornerback may be the most glaring hole.
Cornerback is a major need headed into the 2018 NFL draft. The current roster is a mix of unproven players and stop-gaps beyond rookie sensation Tre’Davious White. Under contract they have two new players; Vontae Davis and E.J. Gaines. Vontae Davis has been a disappointment since being a first round draft pick in 2009. He’s been injured too often and hasn’t lived up to that billing. E.J. Gaines signed a one-year contract for $790,000 while last year’s starter, Phillip Gaines, signed a one-year contract for $4 million with the Browns. That really tells you all you need to know. They clearly show a loss on the Gaines (obligatory pun) and Davis is a huge gamble who, at best, may be a clever slot fix (ala Patrick Robinson theory).
Fortunately the cornerback dilemma was solved by the other member of this imaginary front office, LAOJoe. With the Bills having two first round picks I always knew that my pick at 22 would hinge, in part, on what Joe did at pick 12. Joe selected Denzel Ward, and while I may have been tempted to go with the eventual 13th pick in DT Vita Vea, I wholeheartedly approved. The thinking is easily summarized. The Bills need, at the very least, a QB to fight for the starting gig, and players to fill the previously mentioned roles. The Cardinals are the only other team likely to pick a QB between 12 and 22. Neither of us is a Josh Allen believer. Even if the Cardinals aren’t, either Lamar Jackson or Mason Rudolph will almost certainly be available at 22 so all is well.
Now, as we arrive at pick 22, I am faced with a stark reality. I need to find someone that may change the prospects of the franchise. The most recognizable individuals historically when asked about the Bills are O.J. and Jim Kelly. One “didn’t do it” (enough said) and the other didn’t do it (win a superbowl, like that guy Nick Foles). The Bills are already a solid team as they proved by making the postseason last year. At defensive tackle, Maurice Hurst had the college production to make you believe in him as a plus player at the NFL level, but left questions about athleticism. Taven Bryan displayed enough on tape that his combine performance warrants wonder. On the offensive line Isaiah Wynn is a game-ready technician with position versatility who has been praised on the Kist and Solak show. Offensive guard and defensive tackle are positions rife with NFL starters that are picked in the second round. The fact remains that the Bills need someone to change their fortunes as a franchise, and this is why they take their shot with quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Lamar Jackson is not Josh Allen, he’s better. There is room for a healthy debate on that statement, but in this scenario it’s irrelevant. Lamar Jackson’s floor is probably close to A.J. McCarron’s ceiling. He’d have worse decision making, but better athleticism. His ceiling is the new Mike Vick. He’s “strictly a quarterback”, and one that may be everything RG3 was hoped to be. Analytically, I don’t care that he didn’t run the 40-yard dash as his game tape is proof enough of his speed and agility. It isn’t a far stretch to infer that he passed on the test because he views himself as the quintessential quarterback. He’s the man to step in the huddle and take command, not just a track star that likes football. Between the testing skip and not hiring an agent he is the right kind of brash. He’s not the hero that Buffalo needs, he is the hero they deserve.
Lamar Jackson is a beautiful chess piece in the game of Xs and Os. His running ability will dictate zone coverage. The moment an opposing team plays man-coverage against him, they open the window for 20-plus yard scrambles which is always a back-breaking play. As such, the defense has two options: play zone, or assign one of your eleven to strictly mirror the quarterback and hope like hell that he’s a disciplined athlete. Beyond being a great option theoretically, one may go beyond the thinking and see the proof.
Jackson’s accolades speak for themself so strongly. He was the 2016 Heisman winner and was in the running last year. That doesn’t speak so strongly for those of us old enough to remember Ryan Leaf, or at the very least Tim Tebow. However, when this is placed in the context of back-to-back 1,500 yard rushing seasons, a 57:19 TD to interception ratio over the past two, and a 17-9 record over that same span, one has to believe. This was all achieved despite a weak supporting cast, and it has gained Lamar at least a few notable believers including most recent Super Bowl loser Tom Brady, as reported on NFL.com.
Lamar is not without his flaws. With RG3 serving as a strong comparison, it’s hard to forget what a disappointment he turned out to be. However, that fault rests as much with the Washington football team’s bungling of his injury management as it does with him. There are questions about Jackson’s less-than-prototypical size. This was also true of Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. There are concerns about accuracy and having faced lesser competition. Yet, a young man from North Dakota State University proved himself on a championship team this past season. Perhaps you’ve heard of Carson Wentz.
Lamar Jackson isn’t perfect, but let’s not kid ourselves. This is pick 22. The Bills have two first round picks and two second round picks. It would be silly not to take their shot at quarterback with one of these. So now, seemingly served up on a platter before them, they have the opportunity to take exactly that shot. Like Philadelphia of years past, the fan base is starved for wins, and respect, and validation. We choose a winner. We choose a man that will make it a personal mission to do everything in his power to make it happen. We choose a man that carries the personal swagger and attitude of the Bills Mafia. We, the Buffalo Bills, with the 22nd pick, select quarterback Lamar Jackson of Louisville.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2018 BGN Community Mock Draft Order
1) Browns (GMinTraining): Saquon Barkley
2) Giants (ablesser88): Quenton Nelson
3) Jets (20Safety_Hazards): Sam Darnold
4) Browns (MJ1893): Josh Rosen
5) Broncos (drc242): Baker Mayfield
6) Colts (I Need a Username): Bradley Chubb
7) Buccaneers (dunc123): Minkah Fitzpatrick
8) Bears (NVEagleShark): Tremaine Edmunds
9) 49ers (Doug Pederson’s Pair of Balls): Calvin Ridley
10) Raiders (Milehighbirds): Derwin James
11) Dolphins (danishdynamite_): Roquan Smith
12) Bills (LAOJoe): Denzel Ward
13) Washington (Eagle1987): Vita Vea
14) Packers (89Tremaine): Mike Hughes
15) Cardinals (RimoDawkins): Josh Allen
16) Ravens (PhillyEagles2011): Mike McGlinchey
17) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!): Da’Ron Payne
18) Seahawks (KEZHOG): Marcus Davenport
19) Cowboys (Brawnybalboa): Rashaan Evans
20) Lions (dshelton5): Derrius Guice
21) Bengals (Palaniappan K M): Connor Williams
22) Bills (BeamerWentzorBentley): Lamar Jackson
23) Patriots (jy1187):
24) Panthers (dceagles):
25) Titans (ei78):
26) Falcons (SakPrescott):
27) Saints (MidMajorMatt):
28) Steelers (SummersInVA):
29) Jaguars (RecarTabmok):
30) Vikings (AnthroEagle):
31) Patriots (PhilaWolverine):
32) Eagles (JALupowitz):
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think the Seahawks should pick in the 2018 BGN Consensus Mock Draft.
1) Browns: Saquon Barkley
2) Giants: Sam Darnold
3) Jets: Josh Rosen
4) Browns: Josh Allen
5) Broncos: Baker Mayfield
6) Colts: Bradley Chubb
7) Buccaneers: Minkah Fitzpatrick
8) Bears: Quenton Nelson
9) 49ers: Tremaine Edmunds
10) Raiders: Derwin James
11) Dolphins: Roquan Smith
12) Bills: Lamar Jackson
13) Washington: Vita Vea
14) Packers: Denzel Ward
15) Cardinals: Mason Rudolph
16) Ravens: Mike McGlinchey
17) Chargers: Da’Ron Payne
18) Seahawks: Marcus Davenport
19) Cowboys: Rashaan Evans
20) Lions: Derrius Guice
21) Bengals: Connor Williams
Who should the Bills pick at No. 22?
This poll is closed
Leighton Vander Esch