Jason Whitlock thinks Bill Polian is 98 percent right about Lamar Jackson

Feb 20, 2018 at 5:48p ET

Jason Whitlock talks Lamar Jackson. Hear why he thinks Jackson could be a good fit at WR than QB in the NFL.

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– Whitlock, you watched them play. Does Jackson need to switch to wide receiver to succeed in this league?

– I think Bill Polian is almost– he's 98% right. He's not too short to play quarterback. The guy's 6'2″, six-foot-three. He's tall enough. But he is too slight. And these people are trying to compare him to Cam Newton. Stop.

COLIN COWHERD: Oh god no. Yeah.

– Cam Newton weighs 260 pounds. This guy weighs 210 soaking wet. Listen, there have been other– because some of this has been turned racial. I read a piece today where, oh my god, they asking Lamar Jackson, it's a racial thing. They did it to Eric Crouch, they did it to Matt Jones. Julian Edelman was a quarterback at Kent State in the Mid-American Conference. He immediately moved to wide receiver in the NFL, long– even before the draft. That's worked out quite well for him.

Terrelle Pryor wanted to be a quarterback. That's who this guy compares to, but he's not as thick as Terrelle. If Terrelle Pryor had started out as a wide receiver, he'd be making a lot more money right now at 27, 28 years old. And so if Lamar Jackson wants a great second contract in the NFL, because that's the landing spot, that's the journey, he should start out as a wide receiver.

– More rushes than completions in college football. Just think about that. More rushes than completions. I've always had sort of a rule on college quarterback. If you can't complete 60% in college, there's almost no exceptions. You're not going to make it in the NFL.

I understand chasing a dream. But with arguably the best offensive mind in college football, outside of Chip Kelly, you'd did say Bobby Petrino. I mean, he's really clever. He's made average quarterbacks look great.

– Brady Hoke, but continue.

– Brady Hoke, yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

Lamar's completing 57% of his throws. And I sense with you, when Polian said that, I thought, oh, there's going to be some– this is going to fall into racial terms. But when you look at him, he is a built-like-a-breadstick runner first. That's not a 12-year quarterback in the NFL.

– Be an awesome wide receiver. And they make quite a bit of money in the NFL.

– Yeah, I always look at it– there's a couple of different things. It is– you know, you can look at Josh Allen at 55, 56% playing at Wyoming and say, well, his completion percentage isn't very good. And then you can look at the extenuating circumstances. He played at Wyoming, didn't have a lot of talent around him, played in a pro-style system the same that Carson Wentz played in in South Dakota. So it's going to be harder to complete a 65% of your passes given all those circumstances.

You play in a more spread, Bobby Petrino offense at Louisville, you should be completing 65% of your passes with all the different bubble screens and all the swing passes and all the things that you do in that particular offense. So that would be troubling to me.

The other thing that you get into is, when you have a little bit of a quirky mechanics or quirky delivery, people in the NFL try to change you. That never seems to go well. The one guy who's got terrible-looking mechanics but nobody ever touched him was Philip Rivers. Beyond that, I can remember David Carr, who was a side arm guy, I remember them putting ladders and a stick between it, and made him throw at seven on seven over the stick. And I'm like, that never ends well for anybody.

So that would be my big concern for him is they're going to get you, and then they're going to try to turn you into something you're not. And you're never going to have success in that situation.

– Yeah. Far be it from me to criticize Bill Polian. I mean, he knows more football than I'll ever know in my life. I pick his brain when I'm in the green room in Bristol and actually critique it. And I think he's helped build five Super Bowl winning teams. Yet, I will say this. He's also the guy that came out and said in 2011, whenever Tim Tebow came out, Tim Tebow should be a running back, Tim Tebow should be a tight end and H-back. And–

JASON WHITLOCK: He was right.

– –he was right. He was right. But who are we– I go back to Colin when he was talking about who are we to say Michael Jordan can't scratch an itch at 35 or 38? Who are we to say Lamar Jackson can't follow his dream and play be an NFL quarterback? If he's not that guy, then I would convert him. But I would at least try to see if you– I would see if you can be an NFL quarterback.

– I think what Polian is saying is, if you want to maximize your value, young man, then the best way–

– Make the money now.

– –to do that– right– is to switch positions, because ultimately you'll back up for a while, and then they'll find out– you know, eventually they'll find out, you know, you don't really have the skill set to be a starter in this league, where if you're playing full-time at wide receiver, as you mentioned, that second contract is where you can get paid.

– Well, to your point, if Bill Polian would have said this about, you know, anybody else, I think a part of this is race. There is a sense that Lamar– what you're saying with Lamar is he doesn't have something that quarterbacks need, where you and I are saying, yeah, he's skinny and runs too much and isn't very accurate. Like, Polian– that became a story why? Bill Polian has built Super Bowl-winning teams, says I wouldn't make that quarterback a quarterback, people were, like, mad. Why?

– Well, he won the Heisman Trophy. And so the casual–

– So did Tebow.

– –no, no, the casual fan, the guy that won the Heisman Trophy. And why wouldn't you put the ball in the hands of the most exciting guy and the most hard-to-tackle guy? But again, because the NFL and college football are so different.

COLIN COWHERD: Totally.

– First of all, you're so young when you're playing college football, your body recovers better from the hits. But once you get to the NFL and the Ray Lewises of the league and the Luke Kuechlys of the league start tapping you, you just can't survive that at 210 pounds and six-foot-three. It just doesn't– we saw with RG3 it just doesn't last long.

– It's unsustainable. I've been in Denver the last couple years and watched Trevor Siemian, who had an injury history in college, and he's a slightly built guy, and they have bent him like a pretzel. I mean, that poor guy just had another shoulder surgery, so–

COMMENTATOR: Yeah, but pardon me for just one minute.

– Yeah.

– Isn't the run pass option part of the NFL now? I mean, don't white guys run the run pass option? I– the fact that people are comparing him to–

COMMENTATOR: Yeah, but the difference is they don't actually let their quarterbacks run.

COMMENTATOR: Well, OK–

– It's like flag it to the running back or throw it, right?

– I'm not saying he's going to be Steve Young. I'm not saying– I'm not even saying he's going to be Randall Cunningham. I'm saying give the guy a shot. What's wrong with giving the guy a shot to play quarterback in the NFL?

– Somebody will. Somebody will.

– Bill Polian's probably, when I worked at ESPN, the one guy I relied on regularly for personnel information.

JASON WHITLOCK: Besides me. Continue.

– Besides you. And my takeaway when he said this yesterday was, well yeah, that's what my scouting sources are saying. Lamar is not really a guy you could– he's skinny–

– I don't even think he's Michael Vick.

– Oh god no. Oh no, no, no. Michael Vick was transformative.

– Yeah, but I'm saying Michael Vick, some people could have argued, Michael Vick, he would have been a hell of a–

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

COMMENTATOR: You guys are unbelievable. Why don't you just tell him to play Minor League Baseball now? I mean, that's what this is coming to.

– Maybe he should.

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