The New England Patriots’ top personnel executive traveled to Louisville on Thursday to watch one of the NFL draft’s most intriguing prospects.
Nick Caserio, the Patriots’ director of player personnel, was on hand to observe quarterback Lamar Jackson’s pro day. Thirty-one of the NFL’s 32 teams sent representatives to the showcase, according to NFL Media’s Andrew Groover.
As many as six quarterbacks could hear their names called in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, including Jackson, who possesses the most dynamic skill set of any signal-caller in this class. In three seasons at Louisville, he threw for 9,043 yards and 69 touchdowns while also rushing for another 4,132 yards and 50 scores.
Jackson will need to improve his accuracy at the NFL level — he completed just 57 percent of his passes for the Cardinals — but his athleticism and playmaking ability are second to none. He won the Heisman Trophy as a sophomore in 2016 and was a finalist for the award in 2017, losing out to Oklahoma quarterback and fellow 2018 draft prospect Baker Mayfield.
With Tom Brady set to turn 41 in August and Jimmy Garoppolo now plying his trade in San Francisco, the Patriots are widely expected to draft a quarterback this year. The four top-rated QBs — Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen and Mayfield — will be long gone before New England’s first selection, but Jackson could be an option at No. 31, though the Patriots might be better off using that pick to fill a more pressing need, like offensive tackle or linebacker.
Jackson, who shut down the idea that he could be moved to wide receiver in the pros, opted not to run the 40-yard dash at his pro day after also declining to do so at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Though Jackson was the main attraction of Louisville’s pro day, he wasn’t the only highly touted draft prospect to participate. Cornerback Jaire Alexander is a likely first-round pick, and offensive tackle Geron Christian is pegged as a third- or fourth-rounder.