Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson knows the value of speed like few other players in the NFL. At just 175 pounds, Jackson is one of the league's best receivers, and speed is a huge part of the former Cal star's game. So when Jackson questions whether Jadeveon Clowney's speed will translate to the next level, he speaks from seven years of experience running away from defenders with a size advantage over him.
"I just need to see him get to the NFL and do his thing ... the NFL is a big man sport," Jackson told TMZ.com. "I know he's 260 ... that fast (expletive) cool ... but I got homies right here that's bigger than that, that poundin' (expletive) in the streets. So, if he gonna get on that field and pound (expletive), I can't do nothing but respect him."
Translation? Sounds like Jackson isn't sure Clowney is big enough to dominate the league the way he dominated the college level. Clowney weighed 266 at the combine, and played in the 270-275 range in college.
Does Jackson have a point? Clowney figures to be playing defensive end rather than a rush-linebacker role at the next level, which would certainly demand more of him from a run-stopping standpoint. Opposing teams won't need to worry about his pass-rushing skills as much if they can create second-and-5s by running directly at him on first down. That strategy was tried, and failed, in the SEC. As for pass rushing, consider the size of the NFL's leading sack men among defensive ends last season (pass-rushing linebackers excluded):
A lightning-quick first step is such a big part of Clowney's pass-rushing game that a lot will depend on how well NFL offensive tackles can handle his initial burst at the snap. If too many starting NFL tackles can make a good adjustment to that, Clowney's size and strength will have to play a bigger role.
Jackson wants to see it first, respect it second. And Clowney will have to earn that from much bigger players than Jackson.