Lamar Jackson Is No Wide Receiver

Quarterback Lamar Jackson at NFL combine

Former Colt’s G.M. and ESPN Analyst, Bill Polian started one of the all-time dumbest sports takes. Should Lamar Jackson switch to wide receiver? The first go-round with this nonsensical opinion set the sports talk world on fire and generated so much push back that his decision to double down makes you wonder if Bill hit his head or is something else happening here?

If you missed it, last September Bill stated, “I don’t think that Lamar, the Louisville kid’s in that discussion, in fact, there’s a question that he may be, he might be a receiver.”
 (causing the other host to yell things such as, “are you kidding me?”) 
“No, I’m not kidding you. And that has to do with girth and skill set as well.”
 Later on in the discussion over whether Polian had lost his damn mind, it was brought up that Drew Brees is shorter than Jackson. Polian responded, “Different guy, different guy.”

It’s worth mentioning Jackson is 6’3, and 211 pounds. Meaning he is also taller than Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater, and Russel Wilson who are all less than 6’3, but apparently Lamar Jackson is the one who is too short.

Polian recently recycled this take when he visited ESPN’s Golic and Wingo stating, “I think wide receiver,” Polian said. “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 AB, and who else? Name me another one; Julio’s not even like that.”
Polian added, “Clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there.”

So, who does Bill consider a Quarterback? Well, his big three are Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen. How do they stack up against Jackson? For starters, Jackson won a Heisman playing QUARTERBACK! Something that not a single one of Bill’s top quarterbacks have done.

Jackson had a career passer rating of 142.9 while at Louisville, which is better than Josh Allen and Josh Rosen. Sam Darnold only had a slightly better passing rating at 153.7, but all three quarterbacks benefited from wide receivers that could catch. This year Jackson had the highest percentage of his passed dropped at 12.4%, which is almost double Darnold’s and higher than Josh Allen 7.84% and Josh Rosen 11.01%.

Polian has made it a point to say Jackson is not accurate, which begs the question, has he seen Josh Allen play? The most significant criticism of Josh Allen is that he is not very accurate. People around the NFL are betting that NFL talent wide receivers will be able to run under his balls. There is only one problem with that take, which Washington State Coach Mike Leach identified in an interview with Pardon My Take. He made the point that accuracy is one of those things that you either have or you don’t. It’s not something you can teach, and Josh Allen does not have it, but Bill isn’t suggesting he switch positions to tight end.

Jackson doesn’t have the world’s most exceptional accuracy, but it is certainly good enough to compete at the NFL level. Even with wide receivers that dropped a ton of balls, Jackson managed to have a completion percentage of 59.1% while Allen’s was at 56.3% last season.

I find it hilarious that Polian views Sam Darnold as a top three quarterback and that Jackson should start preparing to be a wide receiver. I will be writing another piece about why I think Darnold will be a huge bust. For now, I would like to make one point, which is Sam Darnold is a human turnover machine. He had a total of 21 turnovers last season while playing in a weak PAC 12 conference. You can’t win a whole lot of NFL games if you always turn the ball over. Take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They suffer from a turnover machine in Jameis Winston. Lamar Jackson doesn’t suffer from the turnover plague; which moves him up in my book.

Lamar Jackson might be a once in a lifetime quarterback talent. He is a better version of Michael Vick but can pass in the pocket. He comes from a complicated style of offense, coached by Bobby Petrino, a man who knows quarterbacks. Now I’m not saying Jackson is perfect. He defiantly needs some development but to say he should be a wide receiver is mad!

The NFL has not always been on the right of history when it comes to race relations. Their handling of African American quarterbacks is a case in point and the subject for another day, but the development of African American quarterbacks remains an imperfect process. Often times we see them pushed into playing positions other than quarterback and witness a reluctance to refine their throwing mechanics. The decision to put them in situations that show off their athletic attributes, not their throwing abilities is all too frequent.

Jackson is being acknowledged for his athletic prowess, not his ability to play the QB position and that is a problem.

Jackson has earned the opportunity play quarterback in the NFL. His tremendous athletic ability is an added bonus. Bill Polian’s suggestion that an elite quarterback who has never played wide receiver make the switch, a conclusion based on nothing but his observations of Jackson’s athletic ability is idiotic at best. Thankfully he is no longer in charge of an NFL roster and those that are, are not buying the story he is selling, on Lamar Jackson.

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