INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL is ever-changing and it’s a copycat league.
After a historic 2018 campaign in his first year as a starter, Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to a Super Bowl Championship in 2019. Mahomes is known for his ability to extend plays and work off-script.
Lamar Jackson was the NFL MVP in 2019, throwing for 3,127 yards and rushing for over 1,200. Dual-threat quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson are regarded as among the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL. The elusive Kyler Murray was the first-overall pick in last year’s draft.
None of the aforementioned players are stylistically similar to Washington quarterback Jacob Eason, who is 6-foot-6 and 231 pounds with limited mobility and a rocket launcher attached to his right shoulder.
With the league trending towards passers like Mahomes, Watson, Wilson and Jackson, why would Eason be a coveted prospect in April?
NFL.com’s Michael Silver found at least one general manager intrigued by Eason’s skill set.
"The guy can drop f—ing dimes," an NFC general manager said. "He's an extremely talented passer, and he's gonna rise up the board as the draft gets closer because people are gonna look at his build and see him throw and go, 'Where (else) am I gonna get a guy like that?'"
Arm strength matters, but it’s not more important than accuracy, processing and the ability to make plays under duress which are areas of concern for Eason. When given the opportunity to comment on underrated components of his game, Eason affirmed that what you see is what you get when it comes to the player he is.
“No, I put it all on tape,” he said. “There are little nitpickers here and there. They nitpick about [my] speed and the pocket awareness, footwork, all of those things. There are things [I] need to work on and there’s always room to improve.”
It’s understandable of Eason. When you watch him play, athleticism doesn’t pop and it would be foolish for him to bill himself as something he isn’t. Eason is embracing his skill set and believes that despite the new wave of passers in the NFL, a team should be able to understand how he finds success as a quarterback and build around those abilities.
“Every player is different,” he said. “Every player is unique. Everybody knows their strengths and weaknesses and they are going to play to those strengths.”
While Eason won’t ever be known for his ability to take off and rip off big yardage for his offense with his legs, he is willing to do it when necessary.
“I’m not afraid to tuck it and run,” he said. “It’s not my biggest strength, but whenever it’s necessary I’m comfortable enough to go make a play. Everyone will have their nit pickings about this and that, but I’m a confident player and I’m going to go out there and compete at my best.”
It comes as no surprise that Eason mentioned throwback passers when asked about which quarterbacks he likes to emulate when playing the position.
“A guy like Brett Favre. A guy like Peyton Manning. They are both big inspirations,” he added. “I like the way they play the game. Their toughness and competitiveness; those are the guys I modeled my game after.”
Eason admitted that in some ways, he is an old school quarterback. He enjoys watching old highlights of guys like Favre and Manning because he finds them to be fun and exciting players. It makes sense for him to take that position, considering his game is a cleaner projection to the era in which they found success. He can’t hide from who he is as a quarterback.
At 22 years old, Eason isn’t going to suddenly become an electric athlete that thrives off-script. His best chance of getting picked high in the draft is by focusing on what he can bring to the table which is rare throwing power and the ability to drive the football down the field.
While he wouldn’t declare himself as the best quarterback available in the upcoming draft, Eason is extremely confident in his own abilities. The velocity he can generate on the football and distance it can cover is at the root of that belief in himself.
When asked about what the No. 1 point he wants to drive home to teams that might be interested in drafting him, Eason again referenced his best quality.
“The confidence factor in terms of my arm strength,” he said.