The Patriots hosted Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson on a Top 30 pre-draft visit, NFL Network reported Monday.
According to the report, the visit took place two weeks ago and left the Patriots “intrigued and impressed” with the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner.
Jackson played three years of college football at Louisville, throwing for 3,660 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions his junior season. He also rushed for 1,601 yards and 18 touchdowns. His playmaking ability, speed, and versatility has sparked comparisons to former NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who called Jackson “the spitting image” of himself.
Multiple teams were reportedly interested in potentially utilizing Jackson’s talents as a wide receiver, but the 21-year-old said at the NFL Scouting Combine he prefers to stick to the quarterback position.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock proposed the idea of Jackson going to the Patriots in a pre-draft conference call Friday.
“I think the first guy they’ve got to evaluate is Lamar Jackson,” Mayock said. “Does he or does he not fit for what they could do down the road? [Bill] Belichick is an outside-the-box guy, and I think that’s the first thing you’ve got to think of is — it’s a contrarian move — but can you go from Tom Brady to Lamar Jackson?”
Jackson is projected to a be a first-round pick. The Patriots have selections No. 23 and No. 31 in the first round and Nos. 43 and 63 overall in the second. Several teams picking ahead of New England are also interested in drafting a quarterback, so it’s possible coach Bill Belichick will make a trade to move up the draft board.
One team interested in Jackson could be the Arizona Cardinals, who will be picking at 15. After the retirement of Carson Palmer, the team acquired Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon this offseason. Former Arizona coach Bruce Arians told the Arizona Republic that he was impressed with Jackson.
“That’s one guy I really am intrigued with because he can spin it and he’s been in a pro-style offense and he’s been hard coached by Bobby (Petrino),” he said. “He brings that unique skill-set, and it makes me look back at Vince Young. Vince could beat you and he was a heck of a leader. I don’t know why it didn’t work out for him, but listening to him now, telling his story, he’s like, ‘I didn’t put the time in.’
“I think Lamar puts the time in. He’s going to get better, and he just brings that unique ability to break the game open with his legs.”
Arians went on to say that the Cardinals should select Jackson if he’s available.
“Because he does it. He sits in there and flips it up the field,” Arians said. “He’s been in a pro-style offense. He’s more of a scrambler with designed runs. I don’t think I’d design runs for him. I would just let him, a la Russell Wilson, take what’s there, and whoosh, take off running.”
In addition to Jackson, the Patriots have reportedly worked out Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta and Washington State’s Luke Falk. Both prospects are expected to be drafted after Jackson in the second or third rounds.
With an obvious need for a developmental QB behind Tom Brady, the #Patriots have quietly been conducting private workouts leading up to the draft. Among those on the list: Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta and Washington State’s Luke Falk, per sources. Both potential Day 2 picks.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 18, 2018