Now that DeSean Jackson is no longer with the Philadelphia Eagles, his former team must now begin the task of replacing him. That’s easier said than done considering the requirements. Any replacement has to be one of, if not the single, fastest players on the field at any given moment. He has to be able to find openings down the field, and it wouldn’t hurt if a replacement could return punts with the best return men in the league.
That sounds like a lot because, well, it is.
Brandin Cooks, a standout receiver from Oregon State, would like to believe that he has the ability to replace Jackson with the Eagles.
“His game is unbelievable. The man can blow the top off, catch the deep routes, catch the underneath routes, produce in the return game. He’s just special. He’s a freak. I definitely admire his game,” Cooks said via Philly.com. “Maybe Chip Kelly is looking to take another speedy receiver in that first round, and that could be me. Who knows? And if that’s the case, a lot of people will wonder, ‘Can he do it like DeSean Jackson?’ In my opinion, I can do it like him and do it better.”
First and foremost, no one in his or her right mind believes Cooks can actually do a better job than Jackson did with the Eagles, but confidence in one’s own ability never hurts. It will, however, take more than a confident receiver to replace what Jackson brought to the table.
Any player hoping to replace Jackson in some manner has to be able to stretch the field both vertically and from sideline to sideline. Jackson’s true value with the Eagles was never in his ability to burn a defender and catch a deep touchdown pass. Sure, that was certainly an asset, but it wasn’t the reason he’ll be missed in Philadelphia so much.
Jackson was most dangerous catching the ball over the middle with a one-on-one opportunity to make one or two defenders miss. When he catches the ball in stride, he’s difficult to tackle and virtually impossible to catch from behind.
It’s his ability to make people miss and find lanes through tacklers that made Jackson such a great receiver and punt returner that will need to be replaced by the Eagles. Frankly, it’s likely Philadelphia won’t be able to find one player that meets all of the requirements for replacing Jackson. Instead, they may utilize the draft to bring in multiple players that can fill each individual role that Jackson provided.
Philadelphia may turn be looking to draft a top receiver to replace their former star deep threat, but even if that’s done, it’ll be some time before Jackson is truly replaced, if ever. Players like Cooks may be in the running, but it’ll take more than a confident prospect to replace the production of one of the most explosive players in the league today.