A two-sport star coming out of high school, wide receiver DeSean Jackson enjoyed a solid career with the University of California-Berkeley, but his junior season was a bit disappointing due to injuries and often being overlooked in the offense. It was his thumb and thigh that were the culprits, with the latter forcing him from the team's season finale.
Jackson finished the year with 762 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He was also a threat in the return game as he returned 12 punts for 129 yards and one touchdown. Those numbers might be good, but they don't compare to his 2006 season. During his sophomore year Jackson caught 59 passes for 1,060 yards and nine touchdowns. He was just as dangerous in the return game where he ran back 25 punts for 455 yards and four touchdowns. All told, Jackson finished with the impressive totals of 2,423 receiving yards, 633 punt return yards and 29 touchdowns in just 36 games.
Jackson has only improved his stock during the offseason. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL Scouting Combine, which was what scouts expected, and looked good during his other drills at his Pro Day. His hands also rated highly as he caught just about everything thrown his way. One year ago, Jackson might not have been a first-round pick, but with the increased importance of the return game and uncertainty among the other top receivers, he should be one of the first receivers off the board this year.
Speed kills in most cases. For Jackson it is the key to his success. He ran a 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine. This only confirmed what many scouts felt was his best quality. Rather than a long, graceful stride, Jackson moves his feet in shorter, rapid steps, giving him great change-of-direction agility and good burst off the line. His speed allows him to turn defenders easier, which he can then exploit by putting them in a foot race or breaking it off with his exceptional agility. He also has the ability to separate after the catch with his speed and agility. This is not something that can be taught at the next level and is a valuable commodity.
However, speed alone would not have him ranked this high. Jackson possesses great hands, which were on display at the combine. He uses this to his advantage especially when closing on the ball. His flexibility is another positive as he can adjust his hips when working in crowds to get a good break on the ball.
Jackson's intensity is either a highlight or something to worry about. He works hard off the field, both in the gym and the film room. He does not hesitate to show it on the field. He has the ability to lead the team vocally and will not back down from many players or coaches. His work ethic also means he is well-prepared for games, which is evident as he is adept at finding soft spots in the defense.
The biggest drawback with Jackson is his size. Injuries were a problem for him only during his final year, but at 5-foot-9 and 169 pounds, he could find it tough to stay healthy in the NFL. His size also inhibits his blocking ability as he lacks the bulk needed to make an impact in the running game. There might not be any room to add much bulk on his frame without hurting his speed, which would not be worth the added size.
Jackson's size also hurts him when teams get up and press him at the line. He does not have the necessary strength to fight through the jams and can be knocked off his routes easily. Luckily, he has his speed, so teams will have to respect that, but he needs to run better routes if he is to have success at the next level.
Jackson could stand to tone his intensity down at the next level. He is an intense player but tends to get drawn into trash talking too often. This could result in him losing focus, as well as opposing defenders taking out their frustrations on him. He will need to improve on this as he is already known to lose focus when he hears defenders creeping up on him. He might be better served by being more aggressive when breaking for passes or fighting for jump balls.
Expected Draft Placement
Jackson's versatility as a receiving and return threat could see him go as high as the 19th pick to the Philadelphia Eagles. They are in the market for an explosive return man and a receiver, which could make Jackson their man. If he doesn’t go to them, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Tennessee Titans or the Dallas Cowboys could all look at him as they are in the market for wide receivers. Expect him to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to the beginning of the second round.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
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