Fans and media can read into DeSean Jackson’s answer to John Clark’s gang question how they wish. The fact of the matter is that he has left the city of brotherly love. Only time will tell if his “no comment” answer was a cover for something more.
The cold hard truth still sits as a troubling ailment in the stomachs of Philadelphia Eagles fans. DeSean Jackson’s game-breaking touchdowns, celebratory antics, and polarizing swagger will no longer serve in midnight green. Jackson has moved on to the rival Redskins. Now, the Eagles’ front office must find a way to replace him.
Nobody said they had to do it extravagantly.
This May offers Philadelphia the only means to fill the black hole that Jackson has left. With the 22nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Eagles would be wise to add a defensive stalwart, if for nothing else but to contain their rebellious adversary. If the first two picks ensure that Jackson doesn’t burn the secondary, then the Eagles will be free to use a certain third-round pick to replace their stolen weapon.
An enticing option to replace Jackson, likely the best option, is projected third-round talent De’Anthony Thomas. Thomas, an Oregon Duck under Chip Kelly’s Eugene reign, boasts near identical measurables to the departed Jackson. While Jackson is 5ft 10in, Thomas is listed closely at 5ft 9in. Both are 175 pounds, and both possess similar speed, as depicted in their 40-yard dash times.
One issue of note, however, is that Thomas is listed as a running back. Many feel that his skill set is that of a rusher, and would translate to this in the NFL. Thomas’ lack of bulk would indicate that he wouldn’t be able to take the pounding that comes with playing NFL running back. In fact, Eagles’ running back LeSean McCoy is listed at 207 pounds, and stands two inches taller at 5ft 11in. Thomas has no other option but to play wide receiver, and attributes would project him to play as a combination of Broncos’ receiver Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson.
When Kelly arrived in Philadelphia, Jackson was quoted by reporters in saying Kelly would use him “similar to how De’Anthony Thomas was used.” If this is the case, then Thomas would serve as a like-for-like replacement for Jackson. Constant motion and subtle route deviations will give Kelly the opportunity to evoke the speed Thomas possesses: the same speed that netted Jackson 1,300 yards in the offense. Furthermore, analysts have long defamed Jackson for not running routes across the middle. Thomas’ experience at running back will garner him the toughness to take these routes, and pose a vertical and horizontal threat.
These benefits fail to take into account the financial robbery that the Howie Roseman will be committing, obtaining a lethal rifle for a cheap pistol’s price. Thomas will likely make between $500,000 and $600,000 in his first few years in the NFL. Additionally, the Eagles will be able to pay other members of the heralded 2012 draft class without much trouble, as Jackson’s departure has left the salary cap room to breathe. While the Eagles once appeared to be almost $4 million over the cap, they will now likely stand $8 million below this number. This offers the team flexibility to sign free agents and reward some of its own.
Kelly would be wise to pick up his former star, and replace a weapon with another weapon that removes the fatal flaw of the first. If Thomas can serve a role composed of Welker-like precision and Jackson-like threat, he will become a fan favorite in Philadelphia. This opportunity is too difficult to pass up, as it could lead the way to removing the stain left by one DeSean Jackson.