Phillips: ‘If Lamar Jackson Were White, He’d Be the First QB Drafted on Thursday Night’

AP Julie Jacobson
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

New York Daily News sportswriter Carron J. Phillips, believes that the only reason Louisville QB Lamar Jackson won’ be the first quarterback drafted on Thursday night, is because he’s black.

In a piece published Wednesday morning, Phillips claims that “only in America” can a quarterback “with a resume like Jackson’s not be considered as one of the best overall prospects in the draft.”

Phillips writes:

Because only in 2018 America can a player with a resume like Jackson’s not be considered as one of the best overall prospects in the draft, but also told that he should play a different position.

However, racism is a powerful drug. So strong it can convince some people that a football player who has only played quarterback his whole career should give it up.

When Jackson won the Heisman in 2016, this was his stat line: 13 starts, 230-for-409, 56.2 completion percentage, 3,543 yards, 30 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He also ran for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.

However, Phillips writes, after Jackson’s numbers took a hit in the following season, a factor Phillips attributes to a weakened offensive line and an overall loss of talent on the team. Jackson had a resurgence where he posted even better numbers.

Yet, Phillips laments that these numbers aren’t good enough for some of the best talent evaluators in NFL history. Men like Bill Polian who, according to Phillips, is “either legally blind or needs to be drug tested,” for suggesting that Jackson would need to convert to wide receiver in order to make it in the NFL.

To buttress his point that Jackson is a quarterback, who should not have to entertain switching positions, he includes accuracy stats from Jackson’s days at Louisville.

Jackson writes:

According to a stat that was shown on Monday’s edition of ESPN’s “NFL Live,” Jackson has the best offensive target percentage between 5-20 yards downfield than any other prospect in the draft. The advanced metric stat takes away the number of balls that a quarterback may throw away or spike, in efforts to show what percentage of their passes are actually inaccurate.

The NFL average for the statistic is 19.5 percent, meaning that basically 20 percent of NFL quarterbacks’ throws are inaccurate.

And out of the prospects listed above him in almost every mock draft, Jackson led the way with 5.3 percent, meaning that only 5 percent of his throws are actually off target.

Add that to the fact that Jackson had the highest percentage of his passes dropped by his receivers, compared to the other prospects ranked ahead of him, and had a higher passer efficiency rating (146.6 to 127.8) and completion percentage (59.1 percent to 56.3) than Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who some consider will be the first pick on Thursday night.

While Jackson’s accuracy numbers at Louisville are certainly impressive, it might be a leap to assume that hose stats portend success at the NFL level. For example, Geno Smith had a 71.2 completion percentage at West Virginia. However, Smith’s lifetime completion percentage in the NFL is only 57.9.

Phillips continues:

Not taking a moment to consider the fact that Jackson being overlooked and told to play wide receiver may be rooted in racism is a slap in the face to Jackson and every black man who’s ever played the position.

For years, it was assumed that black men didn’t have the ‘mental capacity’ to play quarterback. And in today’s politically correct culture, people now use coded language to disguise their racist views.

Out of the top 12 quarterback prospects in this year’s draft, Jackson is the only one who’s black. He’s also the only one who has been told he should change positions because he’s such a great ‘athlete.’

While Jackson might be the only quarterback being asked to change positions this year, it’s not as if its never been suggested that a white quarterback change positions before. No one had a more stellar college record of achievement than Tim Tebow. Yet, Tebow was told frequently before and during his career that he would have to change positions. In fact, it got so bad he ended up having to change sports.

Meanwhile, Cam Newton, who is a better athletic specimen than Tim Tebow, was never told in any serious way that he would have to change positions. In fact, the league was so sold on Newton as a quarterback that he was drafted first overall.

Phillips closes by writing, “We can agree to disagree on why Jackson wasn’t as heralded as other returning Heisman winners have been in the past. But, there’s one thing I’m certain of: If Lamar Jackson were white, I wouldn’t have even had to write this.

“Because if a black man can’t even go to Starbucks without getting arrested, then how in the hell do you expect a league that’s blackballing players for protesting police brutality to select a black quarterback before the white ones?”

Lamar Jackson being white would be no guarantee that he would get drafted with first overall pick. Of the seven quarterbacks who have been drafted with the first overall pick since 2007, three of them have been black. That’s nearly even odds. Meaning that the complexion of dozens of white quarterbacks in those years, did not get them any preferential treatment.

Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider the off-the-field baggage that at least two of those quarterbacks entered the league with. Jameis Winston had been investigated for a slew of criminal acts ranging from shoplifting to rape. Cam Newton had been involved in a massive scandal involving whether his father had accepted money for him to go to Auburn.

Both of these incidents were serious and yet, NFL teams made the decision to draft those quarterbacks with the first overall pick.

The message from that is clear: NFL teams want to win.

If they feel that Lamar Jackson can help them win as a quarterback, then he’ll get picked. But if he doesn’t, it won’t be because he’s black.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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