Entering the NFL:
In a 14 - 14 game at the beginning of the second quarter, California forced Tennessee to punt from their own 35-yard line. Jackson received the punt on Cal's 23-yard line and completed one of the most athletic returns I've ever seen.
He eluded the first defender, received a nice block on the second defender, juked the third defender while his teammate blocked him, a fourth defender missed him, and the fifth defender didn't touch him as he performed a video game like backwards juke. Jackson successfully ran horizontally across the field without being touched and was home free as he got around the far end with no Tennessee players in sight. Jackson had a blocker in front of him, and as he made it into the end zone, he slapped him five and scored.
During his three-year college career, Jackson reached the endzone on six occasions - all coming on punt returns - and solidified himself as one of the most feared players in college football.
Not only was Jackson feared on special teams, he also starred on offense and was a premier deep threat who could stretch the field and provide instant offense. He amassed 162 receptions for 2,423 yards (15 yards per catch) and 22 touchdowns.
Jackson's best season as a WR was during his breakout sophomore campaign where he had 59 receptions for 1,060 yards (18 yards per catch) and nine touchdowns.
I'm not going to question Jackson's ability as a playmaker, because he's tremendous and electric. But the biggest concern I have in regards to Jackson is his slight stature. I'm curious to see how he translates to the NFL and adjusts to a much more physical game. It's great to have blazing speed and animal-like vision, but if you're unable to withstand the beating you're about to endure in a man's game, then you're worthless to NFL teams.
I don't think Jackson will have a major problem dealing with the physical aspect of the NFL, because he's been durable throughout his collegiate career. But he has to add bulk to his frame and get stronger to improve his ability to break tackles in the open field.
Entering the NFL:
As he headed up field, a crowd of teammates and defenders formed around Hester as he improvised, spinning around in a circle as two defenders fell to the ground and another missed a tackle. Hester attempted a 360 spin with a defender on his back, shook the defender loose, broke another tackle with his momentum going backwards and was free to roam around the far end finally progressing past the 30-yard line.
Running horizontally across the field, Hester cut on a dime as two defenders were waiting. He split between them, but one of the defenders tried to wrap him up but failed. Hester paused, felt another defender coming, turned on the jets, escaped another defender's weak attempt to tackle him and was home free down the far sideline for a 71-yard touchdown.
Hester wasn't the accomplished, every down player that Jackson was in college, but he was just as explosive, if not more, in the return game. Hester's speed, vision and physical approach to the game altered the opposition's view of how to defend him, and a sense of fear was evident as they tried to punt the ball away from him.
During his illustrious career at Miami, Hester scored six touchdowns on special teams (four on punts, two on kicks) and was a situational offensive and defensive weapon for the Hurricanes.
Even though Hester wasn't an every down starter at Miami, he contributed on offense and defense. As a sophomore, Hester had an impact at the cornerback position in a limited role. He led the Hurricanes with four interceptions and displayed great instincts and ball skills.
It all starts with his vision. When he has the ball in his hands, whether it's on special teams, offense or defense, he immediately locates the seam and breaks through it. Another aspect of his game that's under-appreciated is his strength. At the Scouting Combine, Hester completed 16 reps of 225 pounds.
Hester's dynamic skill set separates him from many gamebreakers in the NFL. He has the complete package as a return man and could contribute on offense as a situational deep threat.
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