Lamar Jackson to the New England Patriots? That’s looking more and more like a legitimate possibility.
Multiple reports over the past month have linked the Patriots to the former Louisville quarterback, who’s likely to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
On Wednesday, Jenny Vrentas of The MMQB reported Jackson met with the Patriots twice during the pre-draft process: once in a private workout in his native Florida and once in an official visit to Gillette Stadium. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has been practically invisible to the public since spurning the Indianapolis Colts to remain with the Patriots, reportedly ran Jackson’s workout.
Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio also attended Jackson’s pro day.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, who reported earlier this week that Jackson left the Patriots “intrigued and impressed” following his visit, piggy-backed on Vrentas’ report Wednesday, saying New England’s interest in the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner is “legit.”
The Patriots are widely expected to draft a quarterback this year to begin grooming as 40-year-old Tom Brady’s eventual successor, and Jackson certainly would be a bold choice.
An incredible athlete, the former Louisville star is a drastically different player than Brady and other QBs the Patriots have drafted during Bill Belichick’s tenure. Jackson had more rushing attempts than completions during his college career, and he enters the NFL with concerns about his accuracy (57.0 percent in three collegiate seasons; 59.1 percent in 2017). There are varying levels of optimism within league circles about Jackson’s potential in the NFL.
One additional note from Vrentas’ report: Jackson apparently “marveled at seeing Belichick laugh” during his Patriots visit. Getting the notoriously gruff head coach to even crack a smile is an accomplishment in its own right.
The Patriots currently own the 23rd and 31st overall picks in the first round of the 2018 draft, which will be held Thursday night in Arlington, Texas. Jackson could be available at No. 23, but with teams like the Arizona Cardinals (No. 15), Baltimore Ravens (No. 16), Los Angeles Chargers (No. 17) and Buffalo Bills (Nos. 12 and 22) all threats to draft a quarterback, he could hear his name called in the mid-teens instead.
With four picks in the first two rounds and eight overall, New England has the assets necessary to trade up if they so choose.