Lamar Jackson Should Not Heed Bill Polian’s Advice To Move To Receiver

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson

Photo via Melina Vastola/USA TODAY Sports Images

ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian did not take Presidents Day off from delivering scorching hot takes on quarterbacks.

The former Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts general manager said, if he were the Philadelphia Eagles’ GM, he would not listen to offers for quarterback Nick Foles unless they started with two first-round picks and two second-round picks. Foles won Super Bowl LII with the Eagles, but clearly no team is going to give up that much for a quarterback with middling career starting success entering the final year of his contract.

Polian also said Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, who’s 6-foot-3, is too short to be an NFL QB and should move to wide receiver. Oh boy.

“Short and a little bit slight,” Polian said, via ProFootballTalk. “Clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there. …

“I think wide receiver. Exceptional athlete, exceptional ability to make you miss, exceptional acceleration, exceptional instinct with the ball in his hand and that’s rare for wide receivers. That’s (Antonio Brown), and who else? Name me another one, Julio (Jones is) not even like that. …

“Don’t wait to make the change. Don’t be like the kid from Ohio State (Terrelle Pryor) and be 29 when you make the change.”

It probably doesn’t even need to be said, but — regardless of what you think of his prospects as an NFL quarterback — Jackson should absolutely not follow this advice. Jackson, who only turned 21 years old in January, won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 as a quarterback. He followed up that season by completing 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,660 yards with 27 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also carried the ball 232 times for 1,601 yards with 18 rushing touchdowns.

Jackson is projected as a first-round pick by and a first- or second-rounder by It would be crazy, given the higher earning potential of quarterbacks, to move to wide receiver before even trying to make it as a quarterback.

The comparison to Pryor is not only inaccurate but also unfair and off base.

First, Pryor was 26 years old, not 29, when he moved to wide receiver. Pryor is still not 29.

Second, Pryor didn’t have anywhere near Jackson’s pedigree coming out of Ohio State. He was a third-round supplemental draft pick by the Oakland Raiders after being banned from Ohio State for being paid in cash and tattoos for autographs. He was an athletic quarterback deemed worthy of a mid-round pick.

Third, Pryor still had a 1,000-yard receiving season and already has made $8 million as a wide receiver despite transitioning to the position late. He’ll be a free agent again next month and will make more money.

If Pryor, a third-round pick who never won the Heisman, Maxwell or Walter Camp and still has found NFL success at wide receiver, is the worst-case scenario, then starting out at quarterback is a risk absolutely work taking for Jackson.

None of this is to say Jackson will be good as an NFL quarterback. It’s beside the point, and we have no idea if he will or not. But Jackson would be very smart to bet on himself as a quarterback, knowing the opportunity to move to wide receiver will still be there if he doesn’t pan out.

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