INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome to the NFL, Jacob Eason, where the welcome party gift is a heaping helping of humble pie.
The 22-year-old Washington quarterback supposedly blessed with one of the strongest arms of any passer in the 2020 NFL draft seemed to sink into that sofa at home as 121 players were chosen before the Indianapolis Colts called in the fourth round on Saturday. After reading for months that he could be taken as high as late first round, Eason had to sit there and just take it.
When finally off the board, practically before he could don that snazzy, new black Colts hat for a Saturday video conference call with media, Eason’s name is being thrown round on national TV for character concerns.
He was asked about his desire at February’s NFL Scouting Combine, where ESPN cited anonymous team sources who claimed Eason interviews rubbed some NFL teams the wrong way. After being selected, longtime ESPN analyst Chris Mortensen spoke of hearing questions about Eason’s “work ethic and accountability.”
Now go face the media and answer questions about that.
“I think everyone’s entitled to their own opinions,” Eason said. “You know, it’s football, and in today’s society there’s a lot of media around it. And hey, you know, my job is to go in there and prove those stories are false and go in there and learn from a great coaching staff and get in with an outstanding team.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who had repeatedly spoke of how he wouldn’t force a pick on a quarterback just because the team didn’t have one signed after 2020, said it was a matter of Eason being the best player available when the Colts were on the clock.
Seriously, who could have envisioned Eason would fall this far? In his only season as a Huskies starter, he passed for 3,132 yards with a 64.2 completion percentage and 23 TDs opposite eight interceptions.
Ballard said Eason will be competing with Chad Kelly for the third quarterback slot behind starter Philip Rivers and backup Jacoby Brissett. Rivers signed a one-year, $25-million deal, but wasn’t shy about saying he hopes to play more than one more season after 16 with the Chargers. Ballard also made clear the Colts have no intention of trading Brissett, who will make $21.4 million in the final year of a two-year extension he signed after Andrew Luck retired before the 2019 season.
Moving forward, will Eason channel criticisms into motivation?
“The big thing for me is confidence,” he said. “Listening and watching and reading some of those things are big confidence killers for some guys. So I tend to not pay attention to all the media, the stories out there, people having criticisms and all this and that.
“But I know who I am deep down. I know what I can be and I know what I can do. With my confidence level, I try to work my butt off to be the best I can be. That’s going to be the case moving forward.”
He suggested some of knocks on him stem from earlier in his college career, when he started at Georgia for one year, got hurt and then lost his job to Jake Fromm before transferring to Washington.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on behind closed doors that people don’t get to see, and that’s fine because I like to keep some of my life private,” he said. “I know deep down that I’m getting the work in that I need to be successful and I’m going to continue to do that. I’m just really excited to be a part of this team and this organization and I’m looking forward to getting in there and learning and getting to work.”