I’m sure that no one is too surprised to hear the announcement that last year’s 2nd round draft pick, WR (and I use that term only because I’m forced to) Dexter Jackson has been released by the Buc’s one day before they are forced to cut down to their 75 man roster. It’s actually a little funny if you think about it. They didn’t even have to consider keeping him around. They wanted to go ahead and cut the trash so that they can discuss the guys that have a legitimate shot at making the team.
Dexter Jackson infuriated me as a Buc’s fan. I guess I shouldn’t say HE infuriates me, in truth, the fact that we picked him in the 2nd round infuriates me. I blame Gruden and Allen for this one, and I’m glad that their failure has joined them in our unemploy.
This was a guy that wasn’t even a #1 receiver for his college team, which also happened to be a I-AA school, Appalachian State. He didn’t return kicks for App St. but for some reason Gruden thought he could turn him into a kick returner because….. wait for it…. He was fast? In his defense, Jackson did clock the fastest 40 time at the 2008 combine for Wide Receivers (4.27 seconds, which I ain’t gonna lie, is smokin) but the guy wasn’t even on most people’s draft boards until he accomplished this feat.
Running unimpeded for 40 yards with no pads and helmet on is quite a bit different than running 100 yards in full pads while 11 NFL players, most waying well over 200 lbs are trying to kill you. For some reason, Gruden/Allen failed to make this connection and drafted Jackson in the 2nd round to serve as the Buc’s primary Kickoff/punt returner. Now to take a special teamer in the 2nd round is bit of a stretch, but hey it worked out for the Bears with Devin Hester right? Well, Hester had a brilliant history as a returner at the University of Miami, Jackson didn’t. Needless to say the pick left many fans scratching their heads.
The confusion soon turned into downright hostility as Jackson quickly began to disappoint on the field. He often shied away from contact, often *accidentally* slipping before he was tackled. He was obviously a bust as a returner from the get go. The emergence of Clifton Smith last season essentially sealed Jackson’s fate then and there. He has been a dead man walking since Smith took over his job last season.
My main complaint is this; I think that Morris/Dominik essentially proved that a special team player / speedy wide receiver can be found late in the draft this year by finding the surprisingly successful Sammie Stroughter in the 7th round. He is essentially the same player as Jackson, just way better. The draft picks under Gruden were often very stupid in my opinion, and I’ll hope that Morris and Dominik can rectify our recent lack of productivity in the draft. It would be nice to be able to build a perennial championship caliber team through the draft, much as the Patriots and Steelers seem to easily do. I look forward to seeing how our selections this year pan out. Although I don’t expect Freeman to make an impact this season, I do expect to see a lot of Roy Miller, Kyle Moore, and Sammie Stroughter. If all three of these guys can get out there and distinguish themselves at positions where we need a lot of help then I am going to be the first to applaud the new regime for how quickly they turned around this franchise’s recent sordid draft history.
What do you guys think of Jackson’s release? Are you excited about our new approach to building from within?