Dan Pompei's Read Option: How Will DeSean Jackson Fit in with the Redskins?

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Dan Pompei's Read Option: How Will DeSean Jackson Fit in with the Redskins?
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Of course, DeSean Jackson was not a run-of-the-mill free agent. Any general manager who thought about adding Jackson to his team had to look past the splash plays and consider the impact of the controversial wide receiver on four planes: in their offense, their locker room, their salary structure and their community. 

It is clear the Redskins really like how he can fit into their offense. And they can live with the rest.

Here is a look at the four ways Jackson will impact the Redskins.

 

Offense: With pads on, Jackson may be the fastest player in the NFL. He had more catches than any other player in the NFC of 20 yards or more last year, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). One general manager said if Jackson were a member of the 2014 draft class, he'd be a mid-first-round pick and the third receiver taken after Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans.

Jackson will force safeties to back up, presenting running opportunities for quarterback Robert Griffin III and halfback Alfred Morris, and receiving opportunities for wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts. "Instant impact," Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay told Bleacher Report. "He can go vertical, and he can take the short, underneath throws and create yards after the catch."

Jim Mone

It should be easier for RGIII to be patient in the pocket with Jackson on the other end of his routes. If RGIII is going to develop into the quarterback everyone thought he could be, Jackson is likely to have something to do with it. He certainly helped Nick Foles last year.

RGIII now has a number of viable targets, though not one of his starting receivers is taller than 6'0". The team plans on splitting out tight end Jordan Reed and asking him to run some of the big-man routes. Jackson is 5'10".

"He's a smaller guy, but he has no fear over the middle," McVay said. "He plays big. I love his energy, his passion and his competitiveness."

One high-ranking NFC personnel man said Jackson can run every route and called him a "polished receiver." Another from the AFC said he would use a special plan for Jackson's special skills.

"Because he's different, you can run screens, reverses and quick hitters," he said. "Get the ball to him on the fly, be creative with him."

The AFC personnel man said Jackson is a legitimate No. 1 receiver, but he said he thought some of his yards last year were the byproduct of Chip Kelly's spread offense in Philadelphia.

"On some plays, he was ridiculously open," he said. Jackson will have to work to get that open on the Redskins.

 

Locker room: Jackson can be as challenging for his team in the locker room as he is for opponents on the field. That's why he's not in Philadelphia. It's also why the market was soft for a Pro Bowl receiver with elite ability.

One general manager said he seriously considered making a run at Jackson and did a lot of investigating before deciding against it.

"You greatly admire his ability to play football," he said. "It's the other 22 hours of the day that make him a pain. I thought the headache would be too much to deal with."

His questions about Jackson mostly were about how willing Jackson is to commit to the cause and put selfish interests aside. "Is he going to do the day-in, day-out duties that earn you the right to be called a professional?" he said. "Will he be fully invested like the other 52 on your roster? I think his teammates admire his skill set, but I don't know if they want to put up with his individualism."

Certainly, Jackson will need to be managed and monitored. He has had tardiness issues and has bucked authority. They don't call him "MeSean" for nothing. He will be a challenge for a first-year head coach, but McVay believes Jay Gruden will be good for Jackson, as will receivers coach Ike Hilliard, who played in the league for a dozen years and has been an assistant for five more. Gruden has a good way of being able to be blunt with players without being insulting.

Too bad London Fletcher is retiring, because the Redskins could have used his presence in the locker room to help keep Jackson in check. The hope is new leaders are stepping up, especially cornerback DeAngelo Hall. He was pivotal in the recruitment of Jackson, as they both are clients of agent Joel Segal. And like Jackson, Hall was high maintenance at times as a young player. The Redskins believe he has matured and can be a good example.

In the wide receivers room, 13-year veteran Santana Moss also can provide support. He is known for his professionalism, and he is widely respected.

 

Salary structure: Even though Jackson was released, the team that signed him still was going to have to make a significant financial commitment. The Redskins gave him $16 million guaranteed—that's more than any other free-agent receiver was given. He has a yearly average of $8 million on a contract that essentially lasts three years.

He has a club-friendly cap hit this year of $4.25 million. That is especially appealing to the Redskins considering the Eagles used $6.25 million of their cap space to get rid of him.

Jackson should be worth every bit of his contract as long as he doesn't veer off course. And that is the only aspect of how he fits financially that is a bit concerning. The general manager said if he had gone after Jackson, he would have wanted a more incentive-laden contract that forced Jackson to earn his money.

As it stands, Jackson will have at least this incentive: He will be a free agent at the age of 30, which is still young enough for another significant contract.

 

Community: Jackson was a better fit for some cities than others. He might not have thrived in a smaller town where he would have been a bigger celebrity. Playing in Oakland or San Francisco, which are near his roots, might not have been the best idea either. Jackson might blend in well where he landed, given the culture and size of the Washington metropolitan area.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Multiple front-office men said they didn't think his reported gang affiliations were a major concern, though two did say they did think he has not cut ties very effectively.

The other thing about Jackson is no team could have signed him unless ownership signed off on the move. Given the whole package, Jackson required more than the stamp of approval from a coach and general manager. Redskins owner Dan Snyder's history is he enjoys taking a risk, and he is infatuated with the type of transcendent talent that Jackson has.

So it looks like Jackson ended up in a really good place for him. But ultimately, it will be up to him to prove the fit is right.

 

NFL Confidential

• Why would the Patriots schedule Johnny Manziel for a visit? Because no one has any idea where he will be taken. Manziel remains a candidate to be chosen with the first pick in the draft. And he also remains a candidate to fall precipitously. One college scouting director this week said he wouldn't be shocked to see Manziel fall out of the first round. That means every team needs to do its homework on Manziel, and he is a player who requires an extra amount of homework. Evaluators have differing opinions on Manziel the player. So some teams might be having a hard time coming to a front-office consensus on him. In most cases, when not everyone on a team agrees on a player, that player gets devalued on the draft board. With Manziel, there also are the personality questions. Some teams still have genuine concerns about Manziel's work ethic and lifestyle. Those issues are more important to a top-10 quarterback than they are to any other prospect. Teddy Bridgewater, who also is visiting Bill Belichick and company, also could fall in the draft after his substandard pro day. But no player's draft stock appears as volatile as Manziel's.

• Position coaches often can be responsible for the rise of a player's draft stock, and it appears the wide receiver coaches are helping Odell Beckham up the boards. After Beckham impressed the receiver coaches with an excellent combine, he now appears to be solidly in place as the third receiver in the draft after Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, according to multiple front-office men. Beckham appears to have separated himself from Marqise Lee and Brandon Cooks and could be chosen as early as the late teens in the first round.

• Peyton Manning wasn't the only player who helped attract DeMarcus Ware to the Broncos. Ware also is very excited about playing across from Von Miller. People who know Ware say he thinks he and Miller will have a mutually beneficial relationship because pass protectors won't be able to gang up on both of them at the same time. He also is friendly with Miller, who grew up in Dallas, and he is looking forward to spending time with the young pass-rusher and helping to settle him.

• Chris Johnson's contract that calls for him to earn $8 million in salary this year clearly has been an obstacle to him staying in Tennessee. But even if the contract wasn't an issue the team probably would want to purge Johnson. The reason? New coach Ken Whisenhunt likes to spread around playing time and touches between multiple running backs. His plan is to have a running back by committee. Johnson is the type of player who demands the football and never would be happy as a role player. A trade or release, subsequently, is coming.

 

Scout Talk

Now that most of the pro days are over, one of the final pieces of information to be cleared up on a number of prospects are their medical files. The files should become clearer after the combine medical recheck, which is scheduled to take place April 25 in Indianapolis.

Here are the big names on offense scheduled to travel back to Indy, according to league sources: James Hurst, North Carolina OT (fractured leg); Marcus Martin, USC C (knee); Tre Mason, Auburn RB (wrist); Zach Mettenberger, LSU QB (knee); Aaron Murray, Georgia QB (knee); Troy Niklas, Notre Dame TE (recent sports hernia surgery); Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington TE (stress fracture in his leg); Anthony Steen, Alabama G (shoulder); Bryan Stork, Florida State C (he had knee and shoulder injuries); and Andre Williams, Boston College RB (shoulder).

And the big names on defense headed for the recheck: Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma CB (knee); Dominique Easley, Florida DT (knee); Ego Ferguson, LSU DT (ankle); Bradley Roby, Ohio State CB (knee); Michael Sam, Missouri DE (injured his hamstring at his pro day); Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame DE (recent foot surgery); Brent Urban, Virginia DE (recent ankle surgery); Jason Verrett, Texas Christian CB (recent shoulder surgery); and Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois S (recent foot surgery).

Others scheduled for further exams in Indy include: Northwestern WR Kain Colter; Dixie State TE Joe Don Duncan; Louisiana Tech DE I.K. Enemkpali; Virginia Tech DE James Gayle; Oregon DE Taylor Hart; Oregon WR Josh Huff; Indiana WR Cody Latimer; Miami G Brandon Linder; Alabama DE Jeff Pagan; Wisconsin S Dez Southward; Alabama S Vinnie Sunseri; and UCLA OLB Jordan Zumwalt.

Going back for a recheck simply means teams want more information or updated information on a player's medical status. It does not necessarily mean the player's draft stock will be negatively impacted. Some players already have failed physicals and are not being brought back for rechecks.

 

Hot Reads

• From now on, anytime Phil Emery is seen lurking around a potted plant, we should assume the Bears are on the verge of a major acquisition.

• Donald Trump would be the perfect owner of the Bills. In fact, they have been playing The Apprentice at the quarterback position for years.

• Shelley Smith missed his wedding rehearsal dinner in order to sign with the Dolphins, proving he has no idea who his new boss really is.

• Jadeveon Clowney says he wants to be "talked about forever." Just not like JaMarcus Russell.

 

Dan Pompei covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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