He was bigger and faster than everyone he was matched up with. He caught every ball with his hands, and extended to grab a few.
It was, in a word, spectacular. And two years later, Jackson was whacked by the Patriots, considered one of the worst draft picks of the Belichick Era.
A year later, while I was covering the Cowboys, I remember seeing Danny Amendola — a rookie free-agent out of Texas Tech — looking like a Wes Welker clone. Quick, good hands, seemed to be picking up things quickly … and with a very similar pedigree (highly productive college career in Lubbock) to Welker’s. A few months after that, he was on the practice squad, then wound up on the Eagles in early 2009, and finally got a legitimate shot with the Rams that September. Meanwhile, another rookie who looked terrible (and was beaten repeatedly by Amendola) that weekend, first-round pick Mike Jenkins, has developed into one of the best young corners in football.
Amendola wound up catching 43 balls in 14 games last year for St. Louis. But the point here doesn’t change.
As impressive as these guys might look over the next couple days, context is important. I’ll be on-guard for what my old Dallas Morning News colleague Todd Archer used to call the “Quentin Spotwood” of this camp. Spotwood, Archer would tell you, blew everyone away in a minicamp when he was covering the Dolphins, and then promptly did very little as a pro.
So we’ll get you your updates this weekend from rookie camp. Just remember to take them all with a grain of salt. And I gotta get going down there. Check back with you guys soon.