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Anthony Chiusano | | September 30, 2016

Comparing Lamar Jackson's stats to recent Heisman QBs

  Lamar Jackson is running away as the early favorite to take home the 2016 Heisman Award.

Lamar Jackson is having a pretty good year. That's well-known at this point, as the dual-threat quarterback continues to fill up the stat sheet and be featured on every sports show with his dazzling plays and huge numbers.

This early exposure has landed Jackson right at the top of the list of Heisman hopefuls entering Week 5. And with a primetime matchup against No. 5 Clemson set for this weekend in Death Valley, Jackson may continue building on his campaign for the nation's top honor.

This isn't the first time a quarterback has started the season at a record-breaking pace though. And it's definitely not uncommon for these fast starts to lead to a place on the Heisman stage. Five of the past six winners have been quarterbacks, so where exactly does Jackson find himself among past stars after his torrid four-game stint? 

Well, below you'll see how Jackson's numbers stack up against the last five Heisman-winning quarterbacks through the first quarter of the regular season:

Passing statistics
QB (Year) Games Completions Yards Touchdowns Interceptions Rating
Lamar Jackson (2016) 4 74-of-126 (58.7%) 1,330 13 3 176.7
Marcus Mariota (2014) 4

71-of-96      (74%)

1,135 13 0 218.9
Jameis Winston (2013) 4 67-of-91 (73.6%) 1,048 12 2 205.2
Johnny Manziel (2012) 4 87-of-124 (70.2%) 1,094 10 0 171.5
Robert Griffin III (2011) 4 92-of-112 (82.1%) 1,308 18 1 233.2
Cam Newton (2010) 4 43-of-68 (63.2%) 683 9 3 187.5

It may come as a surprise that Jackson comes in at last on this small, star-studded list in completion percentage and second from the bottom in passer rating. Part of that may stem from his knack for making the big play rather than always going for the short-to-intermediate low risk options. 

Jackson is third in the nation in 2016 in passing yards per completion at an outstanding 17.97 clip thanks to his above-average accuracy downfield and his tremendous arm strength (he proudly claimed earlier this year that he can toss a football the full 100 yards of the field)

MORE: 10 numbers to know for the Louisville-Clemson game

So while this home run ability may land him a few notches down the ladder in terms of completion percentage and interceptions, it also partly explains how he has more than a 100-yard lead over four of the other five quarterbacks in passing yards. 

Rushing Statistics
QB (Year) Games Attempts Yards Yards per carry Touchdowns
Lamar Jackson (2016) 4 61 526 8.6 12
Marcus Mariota (2014) 4 33 214 7.7 3
Jameis Winston (2013) 4 29 111 3.4 2
Johnny Manziel (2012) 4 52 366 7.6 6
Robert Griffin III (2011) 4 36 173 5.7 1
Cam Newton (2010) 4 75 485 6.6 5

This is where Jackson really separates himself from past performers.

While Cam Newton led the pack in rushing attempts and Auburn's 2010 offense leaned less heavily on Newton in the passing game -- especially early in the season -- it's Jackson who has the edge in every other category.

It's not just with his strong arm where he likes to make the home run plays, as he already has long touchdown runs of 36, 47 and 72 yards for three of his 12 scores on the ground.

RELATED: Jackson hurdles Syracuse defender en route to touchdown

Jackson's 25 combined touchdowns put him firmly on top of this six-quarterback group in terms of scoring -- by a healthy margin. In fact, if Jackson was his own team, his 25 trips to the end zone this year would put him ahead of all but two teams through four games. One of those programs is his own school in Louisville.

If Jackson's scoring continues at its record pace, he'll be lightyears ahead of the past five signal callers that took home the Heisman.

Team success

QB (Year) Games Top 5 wins Record
Lamar Jackson (2016) 4 1 (over No. 2 FSU) 4-0
Marcus Mariota (2014) 4 0 4-0
Jameis Winston (2013) 4 0 4-0
Johnny Manziel (2012) 4 0 3-1
Robert Griffin III (2011) 4 0 3-1
Cam Newton (2010) 4 0 4-0

Team success almost has as much to do with one's Heisman chances as individual statistics do. So it's no surprise that three of the past five quarterbacks to win the award all had appearances in the national championship game (Mariota, Winston and Newton).

Like that trio of championship finalists, Jackson has led Louisville to a 4-0 start and the Cardinals sit happily at No. 3 in the latest AP Top 25. Louisville started the year at No. 19 but quickly rose after three blowout victories including a 63-20 win over then-No. 2 Florida State in Week 3.

RELATED: Jackson makes early Week 1 case for Heisman

Every Heisman winner seemingly has a signature win that solidifes his place as college football's top player. For instance, Manziel had his Alabama upset in 2012 while Griffin III had two wins over ranked Big 12 rivals in 2011. Jackson's performance against the Seminoles already qualifies as one huge statement win, and he'll now have an even bigger opportunity on the road this weekend against ACC rival and defending national runner-up Clemson.

Jackson's pure numbers compare favorably to some of the nation's best quarterback seasons in the past half-decade. It's too early to tell if there will be any dropoff at some point moving forward, but he's given no indication of slowing down any time soon.

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