Dilfer: Lamar Jackson Much More Intriguing Than Patrick Mahomes

Watch the college tape, Trent Dilfer says. Jackson's is better

The DA Show
April 24, 2018 - 12:43 pm

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Lamar Jackson is not a finished product. Few people would suggest that he is. 

But he could – under the right circumstances – be the steal of the NFL Draft.

“I think you got to be willing to build an offense (around him),” Super Bowl-winning quarterback Trent Dilfer said on The DA Show. “Colin Kaepernick was successful because the 49ers built him a bridge offense. The Washington Redskins were successful with RG3 because they built him a bridge offense. Lamar Jackson is a once-in-a-lifetime-type athlete. He truly is. He’s much better than Michael Vick was at this point coming out. But he also – and we deal with this at youth levels a lot – he resorts back to his fast ball under pressure, which is being an athlete.”

Think of a pitcher, Dilfer said. If it’s a full count and the pitcher can throw 98, guess what he’s throwing for the pay-off pitch?

“He’s going to throw gas and try to hit the outside edge,” Dilfer said. “He’s not going to throw a breaking ball. He’s not going to throw an off-speed pitch. He’s going to go with what he knows, right? That’s what Lamar Jackson is going to do in the NFL. He’s going to resort back to being a great athlete playing quarterback, so you have to build a bridge offense for him, one that allows that to happen – so some zone reads, some RPOs, some movement – and not force him in the pocket on first and second down. Let him play the athletic position and then the bridge is getting him to learn how to play critical downs: third downs, tight red zone, end of half, end of game – where quarterbacking is so important. It’s what Kansas City is going to do with Patrick Mahomes this year.”

Everyone expects Mahomes to be great, yet some people believe Jackson should switch to wide receiver.

It doesn’t make sense.

“I find it funny that Patrick Mahomes has been anointed a superstar in the NFL, when if you look at Patrick Mahomes’ last-year-in-college tape and you look at Lamar Jackson’s, Lamar Jackson’s is much more intriguing, much more high-level quarterbacking,” Dilfer said. “I would say it’s superior to Patrick Mahomes’ last-year-in-college film. Yet we’ve anointed Patrick Mahomes as a budding superstar for the Kansas City Chiefs. Why? Because we know that Andy Reid is going to build a bridge offense. We saw Alex Smith do it a little bit last year. You’re going to have a lot of these Saturday-spread concepts that these quarterbacks are familiar with on first and second down. Then you’re going to slowly teach him critical-down football. I think the same exact process needs to happen with Lamar Jackson and all of us will be watching TVs on Sundays with our jaws dropped – because he’s going to make athletes look stupid in the NFL.”

Again, under the right circumstances. Mahomes will likely have success because Andy Reid will tailor the offense to his skill set. Whether a head coach will do that for Jackson remains to be seen. 

“I think Patrick will be successful because of what they’re doing with him and the talent is off the charts,” Dilfer said. “I think Lamar could be equally successful, if not more dynamic, given the same circumstance. Here’s the problem, though: If you look at the NFL landscape right now with offensive coordinators, it’s really three – maybe four – teams running a true college offense. You have Andy Reid in Kansas City. You have (Matt) Nagy who was in Kansas City who’s going to the Bears. Best thing to ever happen to Mitch Trubisky because he’s a Saturday quarterback also. You have Tennessee with (Mike) Vrabel trying to hire – and did hire – kind of a college football guy (Matt LaFleur). And then what (Doug) Pederson did last year in Philadelphia, blending a lot of of the Saturday concepts into Sunday football. 

“Outside of that, I don’t know who else is willing to do that,” Dilfer continued. “You have to have a head coach, an offensive coordinator and a quarterback coach that’s willing to go full-out Saturday offense. It’s a risky proposition because a lot of that stuff doesn’t work when it’s go time. There’s not many coaches willing to go that direction, but that’s what Lamar needs early on in his career.”