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Sean Payton Praises 'Special' Lamar Jackson: 'He's a Leader'

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistMarch 27, 2018

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

With Drew Brees nearing his 40th birthday, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton can't help but ponder who will be the aging quarterback's successor.

Consider the Saints coach a fan of one QB prospect in particular.

Payton had nothing but high praise for former Louisville Cardinals star Lamar Jackson, perΒ Mike Triplett of ESPN.com: "I like him, I like him. He's athletic. He's got a magic smile to him. He's a leader. ... He's a special guy. You just have to be around him and interview him and you can see why he was successful."

Payton also noted his next quarterback would not be a "Brees clone," opening the door for a dual-threat playmaker such as Jackson.

The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner was one of the most electrifying players in college football history. He threw for 9,043 yards, ran for 4,132 more and combined for 119 touchdowns in three seasons at Louisville.

Under Payton, Brees and the Saints have broken all sorts of passing records in a spread offense. The quarterback's accuracy has been a large reason for that, something Jackson's struggled with. Brees, a career 68.1 percent passer in New Orleans, owns three of the top fourΒ single-seasonΒ completion percentages in NFL history. Jackson completed just 57 percent of his college passes.

It's possible he could still be on the board when the Saints are on the clock at No. 27 in the April 26-28 draft. While some consider him a first-round prospect, he is not widely viewed to be among the top tier of quarterbacks in this year's class. If the former Louisville star is available, Payton may have Brees' heir right in front of him.

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