The 2018 NFL Draft is just over a week away!! After much debate about where prospects will go in the draft, we’ll finally get to see how things play out on April 26-28th. The talk of the draft this year has been the quarterbacks. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield have been talked about as sure fire first round prospects, but there’s another potential first round quarterback who hasn’t been given such a sure status in the first round. Lamar Jackson has been one of the most talked about quarterbacks throughout the draft process. The problem is, a lot of that talk has been about Lamar Jackson moving to receiver.
Jackson has made it clear he’s going to play quarterback in the NFL, which has surely scared off some teams, but as a Heisman winning quarterback, Jackson doesn’t care. Perhaps one of Jackson’s biggest supporters of him playing quarterback in the NFL has been former NFL quarterback, Michael Vick.
“He’s a quarterback. I’ve been hearing about things about him playing receiver, they’ll probably say he needs to play defensive back next. But listen, the kid is 6-3, 215 pounds. But for anybody to say Lamar Jackson is a receiver, I don’t think they understand the quarterback position. I don’t think they appreciate the value that could be brought from the quarterback position. If I was the GM, I would draft him. Whether it’s first round or fourth round, you look at all the quarterbacks coming out of the draft, they’re all projects. Nobody is guaranteed to do anything.”
Michael Vick’s endorsement of Lamar Jackson has been huge for the potential first round pick. Drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, Vick was one of the most polarizing players to ever play quarterback in the NFL. What Vick did in the NFL was something we’d never seen before. He changed the way the modern quarterback could be viewed. The now former NFL quarterback has compared soon to be NFL quarterback Lamar Jackson to himself, saying “I could not believe what I had seen. I could not believe the things he was able to do. It was a spitting image of me, and the only thing that came to my mind was this kid is five times better than I was when I was at Virginia Tech.”
Michael Vick says Jackson is better than he was at this stage in his career. Will Lamar Jackson be a better NFL quarterback than Vick? This has been the question for NFL teams looking for their next franchise guy. So let’s break it down. Let’s compare Michael Vick to Lamar Jackson. This is difficult to judge because Jackson has yet to play a snap in the NFL, so we’ll have to go off college data. We’ll start by taking a look at Vick’s numbers at Virginia Tech.
1999 Season (12 Games): 2,065 yards, 13 TD’s, 5 INT’s, 57.7 completion%, 171.1 rating
2000 Season (10 Games): 1,234 yards, 8 TD’s, 6 INT’s, 54.0 completion%, 127.4 rating
Lamar Jackson is known for his dual threat ability, which is why he’s often compared to Michael Vick, so we have to take a look at their rushing stats.
1999 Season: 682 yards, 9 TD’s, 5.2 yards per attempt
2000 Season: 617 yards, 8 TD’s, 5.9 yards per attempt
As you can see, Vick was able to have some success as both a passer and runner during his Virginia Tech days. Now let’s take a look at what Lamar Jackson was able to do as both a passer and runner while at Louisville.
2015 Season (12 Games): 1,840 yards, 12 TD’s, 8 INTs, 54.7 completion%, 126.8 rating
2016 Season (13 Games): 3,543 yards, 30 TD’s, 9 INTs, 56.2 completion%, 148.8 rating
2017 Season (13 Games): 3,660 yards, 27 TD’s, 9 INTs, 59.1 completion%, 146.6 rating
2015 Season: 960 yards, 11 TD’s, 5.9 yards per attempt
2016 Season: 1571 yards, 21 TD’s, 6.0 yards per attempt
2017 Season: 1601 yards, 18 TD’s, 6.9 yards per attempt
Michael Vick vs Lamar Jackson
Okay, the numbers are right there. Take a good look at them quickly if you haven’t already done so. Now let’s compare.
If you look at the overall passing stats, Lamar Jackson looks like the more dominant passer. Jackson’s Freshman year wasn’t as good as Vick’s when it comes to passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage, but his second and third season were far better than what Vick did in his second year. Vick actually took a significant decline as a passer from year one to year two. Jackson’s highest passing total was about 1,600 yards more than Vick’s.
Looking at the rushing numbers, Lamar Jackson has a significant advantage. Vick’s 682 and 617 rushing yards are about 300 less than Jackson’s worst season in college. The previous two seasons, Jackson had almost 1,000 more rushing yards.
After reviewing the numbers, it’s clear Lamar Jackson is both a more dynamic passer and rusher than Michael Vick was at this point in his career. It’s also clear that times have changed. Michael Vick became the number one overall pick in the draft in 2001. Now in 2018, Lamar Jackson is considered the fifth best quarterback and has even been mentioned by some as not a first round prospect.
Probably the most important stat for a quarterback going into today’s NFL is completion percentage. This is one of the biggest concerns people have with Lamar Jackson in the NFL. If you look at the college numbers for both Vick and Jackson, their completion percentage numbers aren’t too far off, with Jackson’s being slightly better.
If you look at Vick’s career completion percentage in the NFL, it’s 56.2%. In his entire career, Vick only completed 60% or more of his passes twice in a season. He also threw for 3,000+ yards only twice. What’s surprising to me about Vick’s numbers, is that he never really showed improvement as a passer. His numbers were always pretty similar. If you look at Lamar Jackson’s completion percentage numbers, he’s improved them every year, something Michael Vick didn’t do.
Lamar Jackson has already done things Michael Vick never did. He won the Heisman, ran for 1,000+ yards in college, threw for 3,000+ yards multiple times in college, improved his completion percentage each year, as well as several other accomplishments. Lamar Jackson may not be the perfect quarterback prospect, but there isn’t one in this draft. Like Vick said, “Whether it’s first round or fourth round, you look at all the quarterbacks coming out of the draft, they’re all projects. Nobody is guaranteed to do anything.”
Sam Darnold has turnover issues, Josh Rosen has injury concerns, Josh Allen has accuracy issues, Baker Mayfield has character and height concerns, and Lamar Jackson is being viewed as a better prospect at another position. They all have concerns, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be good NFL players. What gives me confidence in Lamar Jackson is his shown ability to improve. He showed it in college, and I think he’ll continue to show it in the NFL.
Who’s the Better Quarterback: Michael Vick or Lamar Jackson?
So who’s the better quarterback? At this point you can’t be certain, but to me the answer is clear. It’s Lamar Jackson. If you loved watching Michael Vick in college, you’ve probably loved watching Lamar Jackson. If you loved watching Michael Vick in the NFL, you’re going to love watching Lamar Jackson. In Michael Vick’s prime, teams feared his dual threat ability. If they hated it then, they’re going to hate the more dynamic version of him. Despite the concerns around Lamar Jackson, I’m going to say he will be a first round pick, he will have a better career than Michael Vick, and he will be a successful NFL quarterback.