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GM who drafted Peyton Manning getting roasted for Lamar Jackson comments

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When it comes to his career as an NFL executive, Bill Polian has few peers.

He was the general manager for two of the greatest teams of the last 30 years. First, he spearheaded the Buffalo Bills of the late 1980s and early ’90s that reached four straight Super Bowls.

Then, after a stop in Carolina where he built the Panthers into a team that made the NFC Championship Game in just its second year of existence, he joined the Indianapolis Colts. In 1998, his first ever draft pick with Indianapolis was Peyton Manning, and the team reached two Super Bowls during Polian’s tenure with the team.

Polian is a six-time NFL Executive of the Year and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015. It’s hard to question Polian’s aptitude as an executive, but some recent comments are causing many to question his aptitude as an NFL analyst on ESPN.

Polian was on ESPN Radio’s “Golic & Wingo,” where he discussed 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson. Despite having the second-best passer rating in the ACC last season, Polian believes he needs to switch to wide receiver to stick in the NFL.

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“Exceptional athlete, exceptional ability to make you miss,” Polian said. “This guy is incredible in the open field with a great ability to separate. And again, short and a little bit slight and clearly not the thrower that the other guys are.

“So I would say, don’t wait to make that change. Don’t be like the kid from Ohio State (Terrelle Pryor) and be 29 when you make the change (to wide receiver).”

There’s a lot to unpack here, but first is the fact that Pryor isn’t even 29 yet and was just 25 when he switched to wide receiver.

Would Lamar Jackson make a better receiver than quarterback in the NFL?

But going back to Jackson and his size limitations. At 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, Jackson’s about the same size as Jared Goff or Alex Smith, who both made the Pro Bowl last season. He’s also the same size as another top quarterback prospect, Josh Rosen.

Additionally, players like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have proven that you don’t have to be built like Peyton Manning in order to succeed at quarterback.

It should also be noted that Jackson is just 21 years old and his body will fill out, and he is currently the exact same height and just six pounds lighter than Jim Kelly was while he played under Polian.

What’s even more odd is Polian was “all in” on Johnny Manziel four years ago and thought the Browns should have selected him fourth overall. Manziel is just six feet tall, and it’s not like he was going to suddenly grow four inches during his first training camp.

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Polian also made waves during the buildup to last year’s draft when he said Chad Kelly (nephew of Jim) was the most talented QB in the  draft. Chad was the Mr. Irrelevant of the draft as he was the last selection and he spent his entire rookie season on the non-football injury list.

As Mark Ennis states above, no one should be getting too worked up over what Polian or any other draft “expert” says this time of the year. They all have their hits and misses, but it would be shocking if Jackson doesn’t get at least a full year at quarterback to prove he can play the position in the NFL.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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