DeSean Jackson brings more than just speed, versatility and good hands to the table in this draft.
He brings a football pedigree that could best be described as burgeoning.
First, there’s his latest mentor — Jerry Rice. Both are represented by DeBartolo Sports, and the future Hall of Famer came to Pensacola for a week and a half earlier this month to work with the 5-foot-9 Jackson, who weighed in at 169 pounds on Friday at the National Scouting Combine.
“He’s a great dude,” Jackson said. “I was very fortunate to work with him. He came on and was very supportive of me. He’s a great mentor. He has all the right things to say. He’s just preached to me how to treat people. You have to build relationships with people.”
Jackson is considered one of the top receiving prospects in the NFL Draft, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for big-play help at receiver. Jackson hopes to meet with the Bucs this weekend.
No doubt someone with Rice’s endorsement would interest the Bucs.
But there’s more.
His older brother, Byron, played for the Kansas City Chiefs for two years in 1992-93. Byron played for two of today’s top offensive coaches — Al Saunders, now the offensive coordinator with the St. Louis Rams, and Terry Shea, now the quarterbacks coach in St. Louis.
So Jackson has some knowledge to share with his younger brother. Plus, Byron has videotaped each of DeSean’s football games since high school, and the pair look at film after every game.
“After he films it we’ll take a look at it and everything I can get better at,” DeSean said. “He’ll critique me.”
It doesn’t end there, either. Jackson went to Long Beach Poly, one of the nation’s top prep football programs. Among the NFL stars churned out by LBPHS are Marcedes Lewis, Winston Justice, Samie Parker, Willie McGinest, Omar Stoutmire, Tony Hill and Leonard Russell. Oh, and actress Cameron Diaz.
McGinest, the current Cleveland Browns linebacker, has already made an impact on Jackson’s draft preparation.
“He’s become a mentor to me,” Jackson said.
With all the help, Jackson could become a can’t-miss prospect — and a player the Buccaneers could take at No. 20 in the first round.
He caught a career-high 65 passes for 762 yards (11.7-yard average) and six touchdowns in 2007, prompting him to leave the University of California a year early. He’s also considered a top punt returner, having earned all-America honors his sophomore year.
That’s what intrigues many teams about Jackson. He can catch and break punt returns.
But he chafed at a comparison to Devin Hester, the Bears’ return man extraordinaire.
“Devin Hester is a great player to compare myself to, but I just want to bring whatever I can to any team that wants me,” Jackson said.
After spending the past month and a half on the sidelines — he wasn’t able to participate in any All-Star games — Jackson said he’s ready for every drill on Sunday.
“I’m trying to impress a lot of people and open an lot of eyes,” Jackson said. “Everyone will notice it on Sunday.”
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.