Welcome to Hindsight is 20/20. Here we will review our old evaluations. We will highlight what we got right and what we missed. All with the intention of becoming better scouts in the future. Revisiting old evaluations once a player has a large enough sample size is critical to avoid repetitive mistakes. Sometimes you know your wrong on a player after a single training camp practice, other times it takes years to realize the accuracy of your evaluation. This is a critical point that only increases the importance of being able to evaluate the tape, write up a proper report, and speak on who a player is. Learn these skills by signing up with Elite Scout School.
QB #8 Lamar Jackson, KYLO, 2018
Date of Report:
QB at KYLO. 3 yr starter. Potential capable starting QB. Very lean right-handed wrist flick throwing QB. On the field, he is the rarest of rare athletes who has above-average arm strength and an exceptional ability to extend plays but struggles with consistent accuracy. In the passing game, he is dynamic. Displays a comfort/ poise in the pocket as well as a desire to throw first. Arm strength to make every throw; he can throw from any platform without any lower body help and get the ball there quickly. Rhythm thrower. If he sees an advantageous coverage, he will attack it. Generally takes care of the football. Will predetermine throws and fail to see underneath defenders. Accuracy is below average. Inconsistent footwork leads to sailed balls and less than ideal ball placement. He will make rare throws then miss easy ones. Displays an understanding of leverage and attempts to place the ball away from the defender. Dangerous outside the pocket, he keeps his eyes downfield while making heady decisions to run or pass. Rare run ability. Excellent vision, elusiveness, speed, and acceleration. Has the ability to hit a home run every play he has the ball in his hands.
Year 1 Role
He can start right away and at the very least provide game-changing run ability. He is rare as a runner. He will completely change the complexion of the teams run offense right away. He needs some refinement in his accuracy and will have to learn a new system but it is obvious he has worked to display a version of his game that can play at the next level. He attempts to stay in the pocket and throw, he works progressions, attempts to manipulate defenses with his eyes, and takes care of the football. With that said, we will need to adapt the system to his skill set. He struggles to adjust velocity based on necessity, he prefers to throw fastballs.
Long Term Role
He is too dynamic to not be explosive at the next level. I have concern long term of his ability to hold up given his lean frame. However, he is so elusive that he rarely takes a direct hit. I expect him to be a capable starter long term with the caveat that a coach is willing to let him play his game.
Thin QB w/ rarest of run ability & athleticism. 4 arm strength but 2 accuracy.
"Potential Capable Starter"
What I Got Right
The inspiration for the 20/20 blog was Deshaun Watson. I learned not to disproportionately weigh a negative trait when evaluating a player, especially if they have a ton of compensating factors. I applied that logic in my evaluation of Lamar Jackson and after 2+ years, the bulk of the report is pretty spot on. The athleticism was truly rare coming out of college. I went so far as to say to anyone that would listen that “he (was) the best athlete to come out at the QB position since Mike Vick.” To be fair, I couldn’t find anyone that really disagreed. Now, I did have serious concerns about his accuracy and believe those concerns are still valid. We are seeing more of that in 2020 than during his MVP campaign in 2019. The run threat and play action for Baltimore does a fantastic job opening large throwing lanes and providing easy throws for Jackson. His creativity as a thrower has been on full display in 2.5 seasons. When it comes to Jackson being a rhythm thrower, I think it still stands. He strings together quality throws and completely inaccurate ones. His ability to take care of the football has also transferred to the NFL level leading to a nearly 4:1 TD to INT ratio. The rare run ability is the most obvious and accurate aspect of my evaluation. He does possess “rare run ability. Excellent vision, elusiveness, speed, and acceleration. Has the ability to hit a home run every play he has the ball in his hands.” My year 1 role was far more accurate than my long-term role for Jackson. He absolutely changed the team’s run offense right away and Baltimore DID do an excellent job adapting their system to his skill set. What I failed to envision is just how effective his rare skills could be with the right coaching.
What I Got Wrong
I absolutely underestimated just how dynamic he could be early in his career. I could not/did not predict Jackson winning an MVP award in just his second season. I did not foresee the leadership qualities and the gravitational pull he has with his teammates. I knew his success would be highly predicated on the system and commitment from the coaching staff to adapt their system to him. I did not foresee such a commitment. There was no better place for Jackson to wind up than in Baltimore with Coach Harbaugh. Some of his deficiencies have come to light in his third season but you see enough flashes to feel that he can get it corrected. He will never be a true drop back QB; however, his physical tools are so rare that he can have a decade of success before he losses a step. When he does, I’m not sure he will be able to adequately pick apart defenses with his arm and protect himself from injury when attempting to run. Don’t worry though, we are a long way off from that.
Takeaways for Future Evaluations
Focus on what a player does well and trust that the coaching staff will put him in the best position to succeed. I failed to imagine all the possibilities available with a player of his skillset. If a player has truly rare traits, those are likely to transfer to the next level. I know I was higher than many on Lamar Jackson and it turns out I wasn’t high enough. He has so many compensating traits that make up for weaknesses in his game and as mentioned in the Three Traits Every Offensive Position Must Have, elite athleticism buys you time for your deficient traits to develop. The core of my evaluation was accurate but I capped his ceiling far below his potential. I’ll remember this evaluation when deciding a player’s ceiling who has elite traits. If I find myself in a leadership role, I’ll think more creatively about the role every player can have at the next level and require that the coaches have that same imagination.