On the field and at Louisville's pro day, Lamar Jackson remains elusive

Jake Lourim
Courier Journal
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One of the biggest names in the NFL draft is keeping a low profile.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson, Louisville’s main attraction, was once again hard to pin down Thursday at the team's pro day. He did not run the 40-yard dash or do any other agility drills, and he did not agree to interviews with reporters outside of brief segments on ESPN and NFL Network.

He did not run the 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine earlier this month, either, saying he wanted to be evaluated strictly as a quarterback.

Jackson, who has not hired an agent and has been represented by his mother, has been low-key throughout the draft preparation process. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock reported Thursday that Jackson’s representation has even made it difficult for pro teams even to set up meetings with him.

More from Pro Day:Jackson misses an opportunity to show off all his skills

“Not just work out, but appointments to meet with him, to put him up on the board, to work him out, to have dinner with him,” Mayock said on NFL Network on Thursday. “And remember, and again I’m not taking a shot here at anybody, his mom is representing him, his mom has obviously his best interest at heart, but you’re doing the kid a disservice if NFL coaches and general managers are calling and you can’t even get an appointment set up.”

At least 27 NFL teams sent representatives, including head coaches, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin. Mayock and the NFL Network broadcasted live from the Trager Center indoor facility, and ESPN gathered video as well. In his brief television interviews, he talked strategy with Mayock, who said he was impressed with Jackson’s ability to call plays and diagnose defenses.

Otherwise, Jackson was coy. After sitting out the morning testing, he stood in a corner of the field and made stationary throws before spanning the full field for passing drills. He threw 59 passes but had only a few receivers, who dropped at least five balls. At one point, former Louisville wide receiver James Quick — who caught passes for Jackson during the position drills — dropped two in a row.

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Jackson told ESPN that he hoped to show teams that he could make every throw from under center, and co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway expressed optimism about Jackson’s ability.

“You can cut his film and see him run,” Galloway said. “The thing for him was just to come out and show people that he could get the ball from under the center and his footwork was good, his three-step, five-step, seven-step drops, and deliver the ball.”

Jackson told ESPN: “No matter what you do in life, there’s going to always be naysayers.”

Jaire Alexander

Jaire Alexander, another first-round talent, reiterated Thursday what he said at the combine: He believes he is the best cornerback in the draft and, as such, should go in the first round.

Alexander also chose not to run the 40-yard dash, but he did run at the combine and said afterward he was happy with that time. His best of two trials was 4.38 seconds.

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Alexander did the position drills as a cornerback and said he has worked on his hip flexibility in the offseason after a 2017 season in which he played in just six games and faced injuries.

“I carried that chip on my shoulder for nine weeks, throughout my training, before the combine and even now,” Alexander said. “I still have a bunch to prove. I’m not done. So stay tuned.”

Reggie Bonnafon

Trinity product Reggie Bonnafon had a solid day with a 38-inch vertical and a 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range (though the runs were not electronically timed).

Bonnafon played everywhere at Louisville, mostly running back as a senior in 2017. He said teams have shown interest in him at running back or wide receiver, and he also returned 12 punts for 81 yards last season.

“I’m just going to do, like I did today, everything that’s in my power,” Bonnafon said. “Hopefully somebody likes me, and if the opportunity presents itself to get drafted, I’ll be happy. And if not, I’m definitely going to go into camp ready to go. Whichever way is fine with me.”

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Running back Malik Williams also ran in the 4.5 range, as did cornerback Trumaine Washington. Linebacker Stacy Thomas had a chance to go through drills as well, though he said as a middle linebacker, he’d like to do more inside linebacker drills than outside before the draft.

Neither Geron Christian nor Trevon Young, who ran at the combine, ran Thursday. Pass rusher James Hearns appeared to run a 4.80 and a 4.73, an improvement from his 4.89 at the combine.

Asked who would run a faster 40 between him and Jackson, Alexander hesitated.

“Lamar’s really fast,” Alexander said. “I don’t know if he’d have beat my time … He’d have been .01, he’d be right there. But he’s really fast, he’s really quick. It’d have been a good one.”

It will have to wait until another day.

Jake Lourim: 502-582-4168; jlourim@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @jakelourim. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jakel.

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