Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Playmaking receiver DeSean Jackson fits Bucs' draft need

DeSean Jackson is working with Jerry Rice to improve in areas on and off the field.

Getty Images

DeSean Jackson is working with Jerry Rice to improve in areas on and off the field.

TAMPA — DeSean Jackson may have to wait a few hours to hear his named called Saturday in the NFL draft.

In fact, no wide receiver is likely to go in the top 15 picks and less than a handful are projected for the first round.

But this is certain: The team that selects Jackson will improve instantly.

Just consider the immediate impact Jackson had as a freshman at California. The first time he touched the ball as a receiver and punt returner, Jackson scored touchdowns.

Some receivers can help an offense change field position, Jackson has a knack for changing the scoreboard.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Jackson scored 29 touchdowns in 36 games, as a receiver (22), punt returner (six) and ballcarrier (one).

"I consider myself a receiver first," said Jackson, the fastest receiver in the draft (40 yards in 4.35 seconds at the NFL scouting combine). "That's just an exception I can bring to a football team, the ability to return kicks and punt returns and just bring an electrifying air to the game."

But if that electricity isn't harnessed, a team could get burned.

Scouts list several negatives about Jackson. Start with his size. He weighed just 169 pounds at the combine, but has since added weight.

During interviews, some teams questioned him about reports that he might not be a great team player and sometimes squabbled with coaches. They grilled him about getting benched in the first quarter of the Dec. 31 Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force.

Jackson said he was briefly benched because he was late to a team meeting. When he entered with the Golden Bears trailing 21-0, he quickly scored on a 40-yard touchdown reception to spark a 42-36 comeback win.

"That was hard to accept, but I learned from it," Jackson said.

The lessons are continuing. While Jackson may still have a few doubters, the greatest receiver of all time is not one of them.

Jerry Rice is a mentor and advocate for Jackson, who has benefited from the tutoring on and off the field. Rice is part of DeBartolo Sports and Entertainment, which represents Jackson.

Rice spent several days at a training facility in Pensacola before the combine working with Jackson on his route running.

"There's a time for speed, and there's a time to get under control," Rice said.

Jackson also is learning how to control his business off the field. Rice has emphasized the importance of how to treat people and leaving a positive impression.

"Jerry's a great dude," Jackson said. "I'm just very fortunate for me to be able to work with him. Like I say, he came on and he was just very supportive of me. Like I said, great mentor. He has all the right things to say. Basically off the field was the biggest thing that he tried to preach to me. How you treat people when you go meet people and things like that because you'll always be able to build relationships and people will remember you."

The spotlight is nothing new to Jackson. His older brother, Byron, who played two seasons for the Chiefs, has filmed DeSean from the time he was little and has more than 1,000 hours of video of every game that he hopes to use to produce a documentary. It's kind of a Truman Show, pro football version.

"I definitely can correct my game from watching the things he films," Jackson said.

More than any other player, Jackson has been linked to the Bucs in numerous mock drafts with the 20th overall pick. Coach Jon Gruden covets a playmaker at receiver and worries how much the offense shrinks without 36-year-old Joey Galloway to stretch the field.

Jackson, 21, would provide an instant impact on special teams and eventually could be Galloway's understudy as a slot receiver. Jackson was among several receivers to visit the Bucs.

Rice compares Jackson to Panthers receiver Steve Smith.

"He has a lot of confidence in his hands," Rice said. "He runs excellent routes and he's just plain fast.

"So I don't think it's going be any trouble for him going out there and making catches."

Updates sent
to your cell

Want to know the Bucs' draft moves instantly without sitting in front of the TV all day? Sign up to follow "Bucs Beat" on Twitter, and we'll send text alerts directly to your computer or mobile phone Saturday and Sunday.

Sign up at:

Playmaking receiver DeSean Jackson fits Bucs' draft need 04/22/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2008 10:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  4. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.