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Bruce Arians says he’d want Lamar Jackson if he was still coach of the Cardinals

“I don’t think I’d design runs for him. I would just let him, a la Russell Wilson, take what’s there, and whoosh, take off running.”

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Murray State v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Bruce Arians retired as the Arizona Cardinals’ head coach after the 2017 season, but he won’t be away from the game much longer. In an interview with the Arizona Republic, Arians said he’s weighing a pair of broadcast job offers and plans to accept one soon.

But he’s still got an eye on the team he stepped away from, and he has one piece of advice for the Cardinals: Draft Lamar Jackson.

“That’s one guy I really am intrigued with because he can spin it and he’s been in a pro-style offense and he’s been hard coached by Bobby (Petrino),” he said. “He brings that unique skill-set, and it makes me look back at Vince Young. Vince could beat you and he was a heck of a leader. I don’t know why it didn’t work out for him, but listening to him now, telling his story, he’s like, ‘I didn’t put the time in.’

“I think Lamar puts the time in. He’s going to get better, and he just brings that unique ability to break the game open with his legs.”

If Jackson is available when the Cardinals pick at No. 15, Arians says they should snag him and not look back.

“Because he does it. He sits in there and flips it up the field,” Arians said. “He’s been in a pro-style offense. He’s more of a scrambler with designed runs. I don’t think I’d design runs for him. I would just let him, a la Russell Wilson, take what’s there, and whoosh, take off running.”

Jackson won the Heisman Trophy during his 2016 season at Louisville when he threw 30 touchdown passes and added another 21 touchdowns on the ground. His unique ability as a runner makes him an intriguing prospect who offers more than just passing skills.

In the latest mock draft from SB Nation’s Dan Kadar, the Cardinals were the team to take Jackson.

Arians has valued mobility in the past, but what’s maybe most interesting about his rave review of Jackson is that the Louisville quarterback is much different than previous quarterbacks in the coach’s past.

The only quarterback drafted by the Cardinals during Arians’ tenure as head coach was Logan Thomas, a player who has mobility but is a decidedly different player than Jackson. Thomas has since switched positions and is a tight end for the Buffalo Bills.

In Arians’ one season with the Colts, the team drafted Andrew Luck. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as offensive coordinator of the Steelers, where he worked with Ben Roethlisberger.

Thomas, Luck, and Roethlisberger all top 6’4, 240 pounds, but that’s a prototype Arians would evidently be willing to depart from in the case of Jackson because of his rare talent. Whether or not the Cardinals agree remains to be seen.