When Lamar Jackson entered the NFL Draft in 2018, he was viewed as an intriguing prospect, but he had his doubters. Hall of Fame NFL executive Bill Polian, for example, said that the former Louisville quarterback would have to switch to wide receiver in order to succeed in the league. Following the decisive victory over the New England Patriots, however, Polian has decided to admit that he was wrong.
“I was wrong because I used the old, traditional quarterback standard with him, which is clearly why John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome were more prescient than I was,” Polian said to USA Today on Tuesday.
This statement came on the heels of Jackson running for two touchdowns and throwing for another against the Patriots' defense, becoming the first quarterback under 25 years of age to succeed against Bill Belichick in quite some time. The previous 20 signal-callers had attempted the same feat but had fallen short in their efforts.
The "switch to wide receiver" comment was viewed as racially insensitive considering that many African-American quarterbacks in the past have been forced to switch positions, but Polian maintained in his discussion with USA Today that his comments were skewed.
“I said that in that draft, with the ball in his hand, he’s the most dynamic player in the draft,” Polian said.
In his full comments on ESPN’s Golic and Wingo, Polian compared Jackson to Antonio Brown for his ability and instincts with the ball in his hands. Additionally, Polian said that the future Ravens QB was "short and slight," which was met with skepticism considering that Jackson is 6-foot-3-inches and 211 pounds. Finally, Polian said that the accuracy wasn't present.
"Clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there," Polian said at the time.
In little more than one year since making these comments, the Hall of Fame executive has seen Jackson lead the Ravens to the playoffs as a rookie, accumulating 3,014 passing yards and 18 touchdowns in only 15 career starts. Additionally, Jackson has rushed for 1,332 yards and another 10 touchdowns.
Through eight games in 2019, the second-year quarterback has worked himself into the MVP conversation while leading the Ravens to a 6-2 record. For many, the victory over the New England Patriots was just the latest example of why he should be considered one of the absolute best quarterbacks in the league.
As Jackson said after a week one victory in which he threw for five touchdowns and achieved a perfect passer rating, "Not bad for a running back."
(Photo Credit: Todd Olszewski/Getty)