Falsehoods and smokescreens are abundant during season. Here are the biggest myths you’ve been fed.
1. Lamar Jackson is anything other than a quarterback.
Let’s get the easy one out the way first. The rhetoric that Lamar Jackson should make the switch to wide receiver is ridiculous to say the least. Sure, Jackson is arguably the most athletically dynamic offensive player in this draft and struggles with consistency as a passer. But, to completely dismiss the fact that he’s got one of the stronger arms in the class, is a proven winner with advanced leadership ability is a mistake.
Dig deeper and you’ll find that his 2017 completion percentage of 58% is misleading. Jackson’s receivers dropped the ball at a higher rate (12%) than any other QB prospects supporting cast. The narrative that he’s a run-first, scrambling quarterback is false as well.
No one suggested the athletic — and less accurate — Josh Allen consider a move to tight end. Haven’t heard any mention of the shorter, thicker Baker Mayfield give running back shot.
People should chill with the false narratives and lazy comparisons regarding Jackson. Give me Lamar Jackson at QB, let him sit & learn for a year, and unleash him on the league.
2. Saquon Barkley is the perfect running back prospect.
I’ll admit, this is nitpicking at its core. But, it is definitely a nit worth picking. Barkley is phenomenal, no doubt. At 6’0″, 233 lbs, Barkley has the required size, speed, quickness and creativity to be a dominant NFL back. What I do question are his mentality and/or vision.
There are far too many times that Barkley attempts to bounce to the edge, completely negating the opportunity to navigate traffic for positive yardage. Or other times when he misses the hole while trying to avoid physicality.
Plays like the one above (highlighted by Jon Ledyard of NDT Scouting) are not few and far between (see below), giving the feel of a bigger Reggie Bush — a back who struggles in tight quarters and thrives in open space.
I love Barkley’s talent. I’m just not keen on backs that have to flip a switch to run with purpose…especially through the trash. Barkley won’t make a living avoiding sticking his face in the fan, seeking out DBs to pick on and exclusively searching for the homerun. If I’m taking a back in the top ten, I don’t want to have to consider whether he should be replaced on short-yardage and goal line plays.
3. Quenton Nelson its the best offensive guard prospect in the past 20 years.
Look, Nelson is the unquestioned top offensive guard in this class. However, if I hear “generational prospect” again, I’m gonna scream. Do they mean “generational” in the same sense they meant in regards to David DeCastro five years ago? Or Zach Martin just four years ago? How can these generational talents keep coming around every three to four draft classes? Nelson is great, but enough with the hyperbole.
4. Calvin Ridley is the indisputable WR1 of this draft class.
There are two things I look for in the top prospect at any position. 1) Dominant physical traits and 2) Consistent on-field dominance. I struggle finding either with Calvin Ridley.
What are Ridley’s dominant physical traits? He has adequate, not blazing speed. Solid hands, Below average size. He is a polished route-runner in comparison to his draft-mates, but that is expected from a player who will be a 24-year-old rookie.
So yeah, Ridley may give you more on day one. But, does he have the long-term ceiling of D.J. Moore? Does he have a trait that rivals Courtland Sutton’s combat catch ability? The draft isn’t just about this year, but also for three-to-five years from now. So, while I believe Ridley is a heck of a player, I also think he may also be near maxed out on potential.
5. Leighton Vander Esch is a top-20 prospect.
LVE is another player I like, but is definitely getting too much hype as we near the draft. He has benefited from being a one-year starter who declared early. Most top prospects are built up for so long that we end up breaking them down as we approach draft day. Vander Esch is still going through the build-up process and may not get broken down before the draft.
Vander Esch has all the natural tools you want in a modern-day linebacker. He’s big, fast, agile and aggressive. However there are some serious flaws that he may or may not iron out over time. His issues taking on blocks, maintaining balance upon contact and consistently wrapping up are all things that can become fatal to a linebacker’s career if not corrected quickly. So, be careful with the top-20 talk about a player who needs significant work before you can trust him on the field full-time.
As much as I love LVE’s potential, I can’t co-sign the top-20 speak, as he’s not quite a plug-and-play prospect.
Our friend Voch Lombardi breaks down the film on Vander Esch and nails it.