BY PETER HAILEY
Ever since he entered the league back in 2008, defensive backs in the NFL have been trying to catch up to DeSean Jackson. And now, other wide receivers are playing catch up, too.
On Tuesday, NFL.com published their list of the five top deep threats in football. The author of the list, Bucky Brooks, played defensive back in the league for five seasons and then went on to become a scout for the Seattle Seahawks, meaning he probably knows a thing or two about covering wideouts -- both on and off the field. So when Brooks says that Jackson is the sport's premiere big play guy, it's a statement that carries some weight.
"Say what you want about Jackson's flamboyance, but there is no denying his impact as the NFL's most explosive deep threat," Brooks writes. "Jackson's speed and burst make him nearly impossible to defend on vertical routes."
From 2008-2013, Redskins fans became very familiar with Jackson's ability to take the top off of defenses: In 11 games against Washington as an Eagle, Jackson caught 32 passes for 572 yards (good for a 17.8 yards per catch average) and 5 scores.
However, the play that Burgundy and Gold fans will remember most fondly from Jackson's days in Philly came in 2010, when the former Cal-standout nabbed an 88-yard touchdown on his team's first play from scrimmage in a 59-28 Monday night victory at FedEx Field.
But like most things, to truly appreciate Jackson's explosiveness, Redskins fans had to see it up close and personal -- and in his first year in D.C., Jackson did not disappoint. #11 hauled in 56 passes for 1,169 yards and 6 touchdowns after coming over to Washington, and his 13 catches of 40+ yards were best in the game. Jackson put on an incredible display of receiving throughout 2014, and gave the team a real and consistent weapon in the passing game that they hadn't had in some time.
Brooks took notice of his efforts, and it sounds like he is in awe of Jackson's ability to just flat out outrun opposing secondaries.
"Remarkably, Jackson rarely utilizes complex moves (stutter-steps or head fakes) at the top of his routes to set up defenders, yet he consistently gets behind the defense -- despite the presence of a safety over the top on most downs," Brooks writes. "With Jackson also possessing exceptional ball skills and tracking ability to complement his extraordinary acceleration, he deserves to sit atop this list."
The other four players to make Brooks' list were Kenny Stills of the Dolphins, Martavis Bryant of the Steelers, T.Y. Hilton of the Colts, and Jordy Nelson of the Packers. But -- and this is a feeling cornerbacks and safeties who've matched up with Skins' receiver in the past will be familiar with -- they're still a few steps behind Jackson.