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Lamar Jackson NFL draft declaration: QB leaves Louisville after 3 years

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Louisville junior quarterback Lamar Jackson will enter the 2018 NFL draft, he announced Friday morning.Jackson had been “inclined” to play a fourth year of college football in 2018, Walter Football reported Wednesday.He’s decided not to do that.A New Year’s Day mock draft by SB Nation’s Dan Kadar has five QBs going in the first round, including with four of the top six picks.That list has Jackson going sixth overall to the Jets.The dominant storyline of the draft’s first round where be will these quarterbacks all end up: Jackson, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.No matter where Jackson ends up, Louisville fans will miss him dearly.Card Chronicle writes: Is Lamar Jackson the greatest college player of all time? Debatable, but he is the best I’ve seen in my lifetime.Is Lamar Jackson the most underappreciated/divisive player in football? Without a doubt, but feel free to disagree.Fortunately for Lamar, UofL, and college football, facts and history cannot be rewritten by Todd McShay, Mel Kiper, and social media mafias.Lamar Jackson accomplished things on the field that had never before been done in the history of Louisville, the Atlantic Coast Conference, and all of college football.Thank you Lamar.He won that award in 2016 and was a finalist in 2017, though he didn’t repeat because Mayfield was on a different statistical planet than everybody else.Despite not winning the award again, Jackson was better in some respects as a junior than he was as a sophomore.He had an awful, four-interception Citrus Bowl that dragged down his final numbers a bit.But Jackson was a more efficient runner and, in that same vein, got a lot better at avoiding sacks (46 in 2016, 29 in 2017).His yardage per throw and his passer rating were just about the same, with tiny declines.Jackson is the most dangerous player in college football.Nobody can blend electrifying runs and pinpoint passes like he can.The Cardinals’ non-Jackson running game was just so-so, and the defense was plain bad.It wasn’t Jackson’s fault that the Cardinals lost four regular-season games, although his interceptions were the biggest reason for their bowl loss to Mississippi State.The defense has to replace a lot.The Cards’ last depth chart of the season had seven seniors starting on that side of the ball, including three in the secondary.But the offense had only two senior starters and still finished No.5 in S&P+ and No.12 in points per game.This was, on the whole, one of the country’s best units.Junior left tackle Geron Christian already declared for the draft, and Jackson being gone is the biggest single-player personnel blow any college team will take all year.But there should be pieces in place for whoever quarterbacks Louisville next year to put up a strong season.Now, about that defense.This is an updated version of a post from earlier in the week on rumors regarding whether Jackson would stay or go.

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