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NFL Draft: Player Profile - DeSean Jackson
John Tuvey
April 10, 2008

Wide Receiver - California

Combine Height: 5-10
Combine Weight: 169
Combine 40 Time: 4.35

Caught 65 balls for 762 yards and six touchdowns and added a punt return touchdown as a junior. Sophomore numbers (59 for 1,060 and nine, plus four punt return scores) were better.

Skill Set:
Jackson was the top wideout on some draft boards, at least until he failed to reach the “You Must Be At Least This Tall To Play” line at the Combine. Despite his smallish frame (a quarter-inch under 5-10 at the Combine and a super modelesque 169), teams covet Jackson because he is ultra fast. Fast but undersized receivers have been hit-or-miss in the NFL, and a checkered injury history does nothing to discourage disability concerns as well. But Jackson’s decision to conduct his pre-draft training with none other than Jerry Rice proves the kid is willing to learn.

Jackson’s return skills will be his ticket to immediate NFL action, as he has Devin Hester-like skills in the open field. He returned six punts for touchdowns during his abbreviated Cal career, and he’ll threaten the opposition back deep much like Hester does with the Bears. It’s not that the NFL’s infatuation with speed and the return game will blind teams to Jackson’s lack of bulk and concerns about his maturity… but it will sure help them get over them in a hurry.

Possible Destinations:
Of the teams expected to pursue a receiver on Day One, it’s unlikely the Bills would match Jackson with Lee Evans in Buffalo. The more logical fits might come at No. 19, where the Eagles not only need pass-catching help but would love to relieve Brian Westbrook of some return duties; and one pick later where the Buccaneers are looking for Joey Galloway’s replacement as well as some special teams assistance. The Titans might be an option as well, Jeff Fisher being a former return guy himself and Pacman Jones unlikely to ever wear the flaming thumbtack again in addition to Vince Young’s need for quality targets.

Fantasy Impact:
If Devin Hester is the kind of guy you believe can help your fantasy team, or if you weren’t dissuaded by Ted Ginn’s performance last year. then you’ll probably like Jackson in a redraft league this year. He’s certainly capable of hitting the home run for you, both as a return man or as a deep threat who pulls down a couple bombs. But that’s a real Magic 8 ball to plug into your weekly lineup, with the result more often than not being a big ol’ zero.

Jackson’s dynasty/keeper league could prove problematic as well. The guy weighs about as much as one of Pat Williams’ legs and had trouble staying healthy in the Pac-10; can he be counted on for 16 games each of the next five years at the NFL level? The top end would seem to be a Santana Moss-like career: helpful production bracketed by plenty of weekly “questionable”s.

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