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The “Lamar Jackson should change positions” take is foolish

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Scouting Combine is coming up starting next week, and there are going to be a multitude of players in Indy, who are going to be looked over and talked to, by the 32 NFL teams. And in some cases, a player may be asked about and even to try, to work at a different position.

This is not original or even new, especially, as it relates to quarterbacks. In the past 15-20 years, QB’s like Eric Crouch of Nebraska (Heisman), Tim Tebow of the Gators (also Heisman), and even, Nick Marshall (led Auburn to the BCS Title Game 2013), have been told that they should consider receiver or defensive back, etc.

Crouch chose to take the advice and try to play some receiver and never did much in the NFL. Tebow did not switch, was drafted in the first round by the Broncos and became a lightning rod of criticism in the NFL. And, Marshall tried to play DB, but never amounted to anything after the SEC.

Now, we get to what has really become a silly manufactured debate this week about Louisville’s QB Lamar Jackson, and that very point: playing a different position at the next level.

First, Jackson, who was a “four star” quarterback at Boynton Beach High School before he ever got to Louisville, has been very impressive in college. Throwing the ball! Yes, his completion percentage is a little low at 57% for his career, but he threw for over 7,000 yards in his final two seasons. Oh, and he also threw for 57 touchdowns in those final two years, too.

In addition to wining his own Heisman two years ago, he’s been the ACC Offensive Player of the Year in those last two season, also.

And this doesn’t even take into account, his two 1,500+ yard rushing seasons and 39 more rushing TDs that Jackson has put up.

He’s demonstrated, in a power conference, he can play QB.

So, when ESPN’s analyst, Bill Polian, who used to be the Colts GM and was also with the Bills and a couple other teams as talent evaluator, said earlier this week that Jackson should consider switching to receiver for the Combine and beyond, many eyebrows raised.

Polian made the comments first on the “Golic and Wingo” ESPN Radio show Monday morning. ”Clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there.”

The “other guys” are top QB prospects, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, etc.

Polian also went on ESPN TV later in the day and repeated the comments that he should work out at wide receiver for teams coming up. He even compared Jackson to Terrell Pryor of Ohio State, who gave up trying to be a QB and has switched to WR.

However, this is where anyone who has seen both of those two play, and throw the ball in big time college football has the right to “laugh Polian out of the room.”

Seriously, anyone who’s watched Jackson, even once, with touch, downfield zip on the ball, etc. could see he’s better than the “shot put” style throwing Pryor appeared with the Buckeyes.

Polian continued to make embarrassing comments like “short and a little bit slight” as another knock against him. Jackson has been listed by Lousiville the last two years at 6’3, and we’ll see what the official height measurement is at the Combine.

We’re not thinking, he’s “short,” though.

Look, we don’t know if he will go in the first round, but he’s got some Michael Vick and even RGIII type mobility and deep ball capability that should excite a lot of teams.

Maybe, the Jaguars will be interested at the bottom of the first round in April.

There have been several prominent mock drafts, even recently, that have pegged Jackson to Jacksonville or some other team needing a playmaking QB.

One of his staunch supporters is former NFL scout- turned NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. He scoffed Wednesday night on “NFL Total Access” about the notion of Jackson having to switch to be drafted or succeed:

We love the, “I look forward to playing against ya” line from Jeremiah. That is the right approach with teams. Be professional. Take the high road.

Let your play on tape from college speak for you. Tell them you are anxious to make those same plays for a new team.

Lamar Jackson doesn’t have to switch like Crouch, Marshall or even Pryor did.

His is a QB and it’s his best bet to stick in the NFL.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars “cornerstone” player for 2018?

Florida Football Insiders

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The third installment of our “cornerstone” players series takes us to North Florida. And, as the Jaguars get ready to start up 2018, we wondered which impact player would be the one to build around.

You could make arguments for last year’s top free agent acquisition defensive tackle Calais Campbell, or lock down corner Jalen Ramsey, as being that player. However, it’s a player on the offensive side of the ball that appears to be everything that Jacksonville could have hoped for in a running back. That running back is Leonard Fournette.

Fournette, whom the Jags took fourth overall in the draft, is fantastic physical talent at 6’0 230lbs. with a blend of speed and power. And in his debut season, repeatedly showed why you would want to have your offense centered on his ability pound on a defense.

He made a tremendous impact from the beginning of the Jags breakout 2017 with a 100 yard game in the opening win at Houston, and three more 100 yard games in the first nine.

There was lull in Fournette’s productivity due an ankle injury and he also missed a game in Indianapolis due disciplinary reasons, but eventually, Fournette got back on track. He ran for 109 yards and 3 TDs in Jacksonville’s statement win over Seattle in December that clinched the first playoff spot for Jacksonville in 11 seasons.

Then, in the post season Fournette was just okay against the Bills in the AFC Wildcard game with 57 yards on 21 carries. However the next week in Pittsburgh, Fournette set the tone early and often with two first quarter TDs. He finished with 109 yards and 3 rushing TDs, and Jacksonville stunned the Steelers to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

The Jags sledgehammer back scored another early TD and finished with 76 yards rushing as the Patriots rallied to win 24-20 scoring in the final three minutes to knock the Jaguars out of the Superbowl.

Of course there will be great scrutiny on the play of quarterback Blake Bortles, and rightfully so.

However, much of the Jaguars success offensively, the identity of what they want to do, will be centered around Leonard Fournette.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Why is Jalen Ramsey Twitter feuding with NFL Network analyst?

Florida Football Insiders

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There is no mistaking that Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey is talented, and in 2017 he was named as an All-Pro by his peers and most recenlty in the player polled “Top 100.” So, that’s a validation that doesn’t need a whole lot else.

Yet, an NFL Network analyst and a former NFL defensive back himself, is questioning part of his game.

And, Jalen Ramsey got annoyed. Like, really annoyed.

It all began when, Bucky Brooks, who hosts a successful podcast and appears regularly on the NFL Network questioned another player, DB Casey Hayward of the Chargers, and whether he was a “transcendent talent” in coverage.

The exchanges with Hayward on Twitter Thursday went on for a bit and then, Ramsey jumped in here:

 

And, when Brooks tweeted about Ramsey and why he was drafted two years ago in the top five by Jacksonville, things cranked up on social media:

Next, Ramsey questioned whether Brooks believes Ramsey is only a product of the Jaguars “defensive system” and not of his ability to shutdown the opposing team’s top wideout, one on one:

Brooks referenced former fellow Noles All American and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders as one of those rare “lock down” corners, and of course, that someone that Ramsey, two years removed from FSU, wants to be compared to with his own game.

Brooks then explained further about his own analysis and teams/GMs/personnel executives thinking:

In the end, Ramsey, who is not bashful about expressing his opinions on or off the field, finally gave some props to Brooks for having an informed opinion:

The bottom line is that analysts get paid to analyze. And the good ones are always soliciting the opinions of others, who are actually coaching and working in the NFL Front office.

And further, if Ramsey keeps “locking down” the likes of the Texans DeAndre Hopkins, and the Colts T.Y. Hilton, who he sees twice a year, then he will continue to get the respect he wants. And, he’ll get the second contract dollars that come with it, too.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Network will show Jaguars preseason game at Minnesota nationally

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a tremendous surprise turnaround season that included a division win and two playoff victories, the Jaguars have everyone in North Florida buzzing for 2018. And the NFL Network is interested enough that it has announced it will be showing their second preseason game, at the Vikings, to the nation on Saturday August 18th.

This information was included in the NFL’s announcement that NFL Network will televise a total of 15 preseason games live, nationally:

The Jaguars will practice against the Vikings in Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday (8/15-16) prior to playing the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota, who won the NFC North and made the NFC Championship Game last year, signed arguably the top free agent on the market last March. That’s when they inked former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive three year fully guaranteed $84 million deal.

Jacksonville will open the preseason the previous week against the NFC South champion Saints at newly renamed TIAA Bank Field in North Florida.

The good news in addition to the practice time with the Vikes, most of the starters on both sides of the ball will see action into the second quarter, if not halftime of the second preseason game.

This will be good work for QB Blake Bortles and his new assortment of targets like WR Donte Moncrief and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who both signed with the Jags in March.

And for the stout Jaguars defense led by DT Calais Campbell, LB Telvin Smith and CB Jalen Ramsey (all of whom made the Pro Bowl last year) will get a good opening half challenge from Cousins, and receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. It will also be curious to see if second year former FSU star running back Dalvin will be fully recovered from his ACL tear. And, we’ll see if the Vikings want to give him some work or rest him completely in August.

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