Winner of the Main Event: Lamar Jackson
Another week of Saturday Film Session in the book and another week without a clear and undisputed winner of the Main Event. While both QBs made some plays Saturday night that showcased their elite skill sets, neither QB was able to use the platform to prove to NFL teams that they are ready to be a franchise QB at the next level. With that in mind, the winner is Louisville star Lamar Jackson only on the strength that he has another full year ahead of him to build his draft resume while Watson is expected to go pro this spring.
Lamar Jackson had put up insane numbers this season going into Saturday’s contest making him the Heisman favorite. His stat-line against defending ACC champion Clemson did not disappoint. Jackson lead his team to 36 points by throwing for 295 yards and adding another 162 with his legs.
The skill set that QBs need to dominate college football, like Jackson has done so far this year, is certainly not the same skill set needed to be the face of an NFL franchise. If it were, Tim Tebow wouldn’t be playing in the NY Mets farm system.
For Jackson, he is going to eventually need to prove that he is a QB that looks to throw first and run second. In Jackson’s case, his best attribute, his ability to gash defenses on long runs, should also be considered his biggest weakness. Lamar is almost always going to be the best athlete on the field at the collegiate level and it is just too easy for him to take off and run when his first read isn’t open. While he is making game-changing plays with his legs he is slowing down his learning curve in being able to read defenses and get through his progressions.
While Jackson has made some big-league throws this season, his ability to use the full field as a QB in the passing game consistently is still in question. He does seem to have the ability when it comes to arm talent so the potential to grow in this are is there. The last take-away is while the game never seemed too big for Jackson, and it was the biggest of his young career, he did have that one moment where he got really heated up after getting roughed up after a play in the pile.
Watson went into Saturday night with a first down projection and he will leave with one as well. He has not been able to separate himself, however, as the clear top QB of his class. With his size, arm, and mobility he has naturally drawn comparisons to Seattle’s Russell Wilson. What wasn’t evident Saturday night in Watson’s game is Wilson’s elite ability to protect the football and manage the game. Even with the turnovers, it is difficult to be too harsh on Watson as he made play after play to help his team win yet another big game.
While you are enjoying college football this weekend join NFL scouts by putting your grade on these marquee individual match-ups with draft implications. We will revisit the “Main Event” early next week to see who came out on top of their battle.
#4 Deshaun Watson, Clemson, QB
#8 Lamar Jackson, Louisville, QB
#63 Michael Deiter, OL, Wisconsin
# 96 Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan