For many talent evaluators, Lamar Jackson's talent entering the NFL was something to be developed, rather than already fully formed. Some experts even considered him a future wide receiver -- a notion that looks silly coming off a unanimous MVP season for the Ravens quarterback.
But for at least one of his peers, Jackson's stardom was never in doubt.
"Just being able to throw the ball at a high level, you make up for a lot of things," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the Pat McAfee Show on Tuesday. "Like, you look at Lamar, and as talented as Lamar is athletically -- I mean the guy is one of the fastest guys in the league -- but you watch him in college, and he could sling that thing. I mean he could really sling the ball. Big time arm."
So much of the praise for Jackson in his career has centered on his athleticism, and of course, Rodgers does mention Jackson's natural abilities. But it's refreshing for Jackson to hear a future Hall of Fame quarterback who has won two MVPs focus specifically on his arm.
Jackson already earned the respect of his peers after his 2019 season, as evidenced by his ranking as the number one player in all of football as voted on by the players. But Rodgers says he had full faith in Jackson even at Louisville.
"You just knew, one, he's supremely athletic, two, he can really throw it, so footwork-wise? He's going to figure it out," Rodgers said." With coaching, getting into an offense, timing up his feet with his drops, like to me that wouldn't have been a big issue, just seeing the athletic ability and the things you just can't coach. Now, you have to see his personality in the huddle and obviously that's all worked out, he's the MVP now and he's had a really nice start to his career."
Jackson heard the praise coming from one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, and he was honored.
"It means a lot coming from a Super Bowl-winning quarterback," Jackson told reporters on Wednesday. "A guy who's still competing at a high level, A-Rod, that's pretty cool coming from him. I appreciate that."
Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) October 14, 2020
Jackson still hasn't faced Rodgers on the field in a regular season game yet, as the Ravens won't match up with the NFC North again until 2021. They did square off in the preseason ahead of the 2019 season.
But even before that meeting, the mutual respect was already there between the two MVP-winning quarterbacks.