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Bill Polian sees Shane Ray as the next Robert Mathis

The man who drafted six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher Robert Mathis says there’s a player in this year’s draft who will be the same kind of player: Shane Ray.

Ray, the Missouri pass rusher who’s widely viewed as a Top 10 talent, reminds former Colts General Manager Bill Polian of Mathis more than any other player.

“When I see him I see Robert Mathis,” Polian said of Ray on ESPN. “Near a Hall of Fame player. People who don’t like him are going to say he’s narrow of build and therefore can’t stand on the line of scrimmage, and that’s fine. I don’t want him to stand on the line of scrimmage, I want him to go chase the quarterback, and he’s about the best in this draft at doing that.”

There have been conflicting reports this week about the foot injury Ray suffered in Missouri’s bowl game and whether Ray will need surgery. Polian said Ray’s injury is similar to turf toe, and that when Polian was running draft boards, he didn’t move players down for turf toe injuries.

“There is no long-term lingering issue with turf toe, not like a knee injury. You recover from it, you’re back, and you’re ready to go. I would not move him. I’d be praying that he’d come to me,” Polian said.

There are obvious differences between Ray and Mathis, namely that Mathis was a little-known player out of Alabama A&M whom Polian stole with a fifth-round pick. But Polian said Ray and Mathis are similar as athletes. If they’re similar as NFL players, Ray surely belongs near the top of the first round.