It doesn’t matter which draft analysts try to tell you otherwise. The idea that Lamar Jackson should convert to wide receiver is far and away the worst take so far about the 2018 NFL Draft. But it’s far from the only bad one floating around.
It happens every year. Draft analysts — or, especially, Jon Gruden (he really liked Brandon Weeden. BRANDON. WEEDEN.) — throw out some predictions that are infuriatingly terrible. Then people throw it in their face year after year because the internet never forgets.
Everybody makes mistakes, and Gruden’s not alone. But now that it’s almost time for the NFL Combine, the hot takes from analysts and anonymous scouts will abound. Here are our favorites so far this draft season. We’ll see which ones will live on in infamy.
Josh Allen is better than Lamar Jackson
Mel Kiper threw his hat in this particular ring during the week before the combine. Kiper loves Josh Allen as a prospect. Allen is tall and has a strong arm, but his stats left a lot to be desired, aka the Brock Osweiler trifecta. Kiper, who has Allen going first overall to the Browns in his latest mock, doesn’t think that matters.
“You have to look beyond the stats,” Kiper Jr. said, via New York Upstate’s Matthew Fairburn. “Stats are for losers in my opinion in a lot of ways. The kid won. You say what was his record? When he was out there, they won football games. The stats, a lot of guys have stats and can’t get their team over .500.”
Setting the whole quarterback wins fallacy aside, OK, fine. But Allen completed 56 percent of his passes in his three years, so it reeks of disingenuousness when Kiper goes on to knock Jackson for being inaccurate with his 57 percent career completion rate.
Sam Darnold has a bad face
Sam Darnold might go first overall. If he doesn’t, he’ll probably be off the board in the first five picks. But how can he play in the NFL if he has a bad face?
Yeah, that was the comment of an anonymous NFC scout during Senior Bowl week.
“Loopy motion. Bad face. Overrated,” the scout said, via Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson.
Darnold’s throwing motion is kind of weird. The hype surrounding him is really the same as it is for any other top-level quarterback prospect in any year, so it’s hard to pin down the overrated part. But bad face? That’s just mean, and won’t keep someone from being a good quarterback.
Stop saying Lamar Jackson isn’t a QB
Lamar Jackson was a very good quarterback at Louisville. He was so good, in fact, that he won the Heisman in 2016. So it’s baffling to see take after take about Jackson being better suited to play wide receiver in the NFL.
Former NFL executive Bill Polian has doubled down on this, but repeating it doesn’t make it true. I’ll let our own Seth Galina explain why this misperception is so persistent this draft season.
The main issue some analysts seem to have with Jackson is that he’s black.
Sorry, that came out wrong. Let me try again: The main issue some analysts seem to have with Jackson is that he’s black.
Jackson doesn’t fit what some believe a great NFL quarterback should look like: the statue who sits in the pocket. Throughout history, that player has often been white.
Lamar Jackson is a quarterback. He will be drafted as a quarterback by a team that expects him to play quarterback. The end.
Josh Rosen is “too smart for his own good”
Apparently having a political perspective means Josh Rosen is “too smart” and it’s scaring teams away. That was just one of many uproariously terrible takes Peter King collected from NFL types about the quarterback.
Peter King on what some NFL people are saying about Rosen is such incredibly hilarious nonsense. pic.twitter.com/yhQRa7LrWf— Matthew Coller (@MatthewColler) March 5, 2018
His political opinions might not even matter considering that Rosen comes from money, which apparently means he is incapable of loving the game of football. Sure.
Sure, Lamar Jackson can play QB, but there are caveats
One of my personal favorite [fire emoji] opinions on Jackson of late was from Pro Football Weekly’s Greg Gabriel, who said that any team that drafts Jackson “must have a plan.”
Oh, word? So if they draft Sam Darnold or Josh Allen, they don’t need a plan? They can just throw those guys out there and let them sling that thing around, I guess.
And then there’s this.
Well, we’ve just gotta take Greg’s word for it.
Who’s a QB you graded well that didn’t work?— Eric Galko (@OptimumScouting) January 23, 2018
There aren’t any— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) January 23, 2018
Nobody gets it right every time. Draft analysis isn’t easy. There’s a big learning curve for players making the transition from college to the pros. It’s impossible to anticipate with 100 percent accuracy how a player will pan out. But that’s not going to slow down the takes, and it won’t keep us from having a little fun with them, either.
Jim Mora said the Browns should take Sam Darnold over Josh Rosen
On Mar. 26, Mora, who coached Rosen at UCLA said on NFL Network that the Browns should take cross-town rival quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 1 overall pick over him.
He later expanded on his comments to SI, and said he needed to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored, because he’s a millennial:
“I put it in the context of ‘fit,’” Mora told me. He strongly emphasized the word “fit” in our conversation. He said Darnold has “the underdog mentality that I think will fit so well in Cleveland, a franchise that’s really been down.”
Of his own quarterback, Mora said: “Josh, I think, without a doubt, is the number one quarterback in the draft. He’s a franchise-changer. He’s got the ability to have an immediate impact. His arm talent, intelligence, and his ability to see the game and diagnose the game is rare. He’d come to the sidelines after a play and it was uncanny—he could right away say exactly why he made every decision.
“He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored. He’s a millennial. He wants to know why. Millennials, once they know why, they’re good. Josh has a lot of interests in life. If you can hold his concentration level and focus only on football for a few years, he will set the world on fire. He has so much ability, and he’s a really good kid.”
The whole, “millennials don’t have attention spans, among other things” thing is tired, and largely stems from older generations not understanding why people younger than them are different. It’s a lazy stereotype.