INDIANAPOLIS — Guess we can end that whole wide receiver debate for Lamar Jackson.
Louisville's Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy Award winner and one of the more electric players in college football the past two seasons, said he has not been asked by any NFL teams to move from quarterback to wide receiver.
"No teams have asked me to play wide receiver. I don’t know where that’s come from," Jackson said Friday at the NFL scouting combine. "Strictly at quarterback."
There had been vague reports about "multiple teams" requesting Jackson work out at wide receiver — a position he's never played before — at the combine. Jackson not only indicated that he hasn't heard a single team ask that of him but that he has no intentions of switching positions entering the league.
"I am not going to be a wide receiver — at all," Jackson said. "I play the quarterback position."
It seems that most of this debate stemmed from Hall of Famer Bill Polian, now an ESPN analyst, suggesting that the 6-foot-2, 216-pound Jackson might be best served at wideout in the NFL.
“Exceptional athelete, exceptional ability to make you miss, exceptional acceleration, exceptional instinct with the ball in his hand," Polian said, "and that’s rare for wide receivers. ... [He is] clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there.”
Jackson managed to have fun with a topic that has riled up a lot of people who argue that he is indeed at the proper position and should not move anywhere else.
"That’s crazy," he said, laughing. "I thought I did a good job at quarterback! But hey, they say what they want to say. I am here now, I am at the combine, I just have to show off my ability."
And also showing off his effortless charm — Jackson clearly was at ease during his media session, having fun prior to throwing for NFL scouts on Saturday. Jackson doesn't plan to run the 40-yard dash, so people wondering how fast the man who has rushed for 4,132 yards the past three seasons combined might have to wait for his pro day.
Jackson knows what the big question is coming into the NFL.
"I’ve been working on that a lot during my process — working on my accuracy," he said. "That’s what I have to show off tomorrow. That’s where I am at now."
Jackson improved as a passer in each of his three years of starting — from 54.7 percent completions in 2015 to 56.2 in his Heisman season of 2016 to 59.1 percent last season. Entering the TaxSlayer Bowl against Mississippi State above 60 percent but fell below that mark after struggling in a 13-for-31 passing performance that included four interceptions.
"You know, things happen," Jackson said about that game and falling below the 60 mark.
But he was steeped in Bobby Petrino's offensive system that is derivative of the Erhardt-Perkins offense that has been run all over the NFL, namely by the coordinators of the New England Patriots, starting with Charlie Weis in the early 2000s. That system has continued through Bill O'Brien and Josh McDaniels, who have helped Tom Brady thrive as one of the best quarterbacks of all time.
Crazy idea here: But could Jackson actually be a successor to Brady in New England? Jackson said that he had not met with the Patriots at the combine but that he'd be open to the idea. He listed Brady and Cam Newton — "Superheroes," he called them — as two quarterbacks he loves to emulate and watch and learn from.
"[I'd be] like a little kid," Jackson said. "I’d learn as much as I could, I’d be asking him [Brady] a bunch of questions. … A lot of questions."
Among the teams he had met with at the combine: the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.
Interestingly, Jackson doesn't have a traditional agent. He has a lawyer who will negotiate his contract, and his mother is serving as his manager. Jackson also has a marketing team he's working with. He feels having an agent is an unnecessary thing at this point.
"Well, you know, I know coming in as a rookie agents don’t really negotiate anything," he said. "You’re going to get the salary you’re going to get [depending on where you’re drafted]. I decided I didn’t need one. He’s going to be taking a bit cut of my paycheck that I feel I deserve it right now!"
Jackson credits his poise, his calm under pressure and his ability to smell pressure as his strongest traits. He knows he must improve his accuracy and his footwork, and he's working hard in south Florida leading up to the draft to make strides in that area.
"I just have to show off my arm, because that’s what they’re doubting me for," he said.
As for whether he's ready to step in now and be a rookie starter at — no doubt about it — quarterback, Jackson said: "If I have a chance to compete [immediately], that’s really where I want to go to. If I had to sit behind someone to learn, I have no problem with it."
It's only the receiver stuff he has no time for. And even if he's asked about it, Jackson just smiles and brushes off the questions with ease.