Road to the Draft

The Eagles are interviewing some intriguing offensive prospects for the upcoming draft. Find out the latest news on who they talked to and who they had workouts with inside.

One thing that is obvious when looking at some of the 2008 draft prospects the Eagles have recently talked to is that Andy Reid is looking for game-breaking speed, but he wouldn't mind some help on special teams either.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the Eagles had an interview with former Cal wide receiver and return specialist DeSean Jackson yesterday at the NovaCare Complex. The 5-foot-10, 169 pound Jackson declared for this year's draft after his junior season at Cal in which he caught 65 passes for 762 yards and six touchdowns. In his career, he recorded 162 receptions for 2,423 yards and 22 touchdowns.

While he is much smaller than the other receivers being mentioned as first-day picks, Jackson is being targeted by many teams because he possess elite speed and earned a reputation for making big plays. His time of 4.35 seconds in the 40-yards dash at the NFL scouting combine was the best among all receivers in attendance.

One of the main reasons that the Eagles might be considering taking Jackson with the 19th overall pick in the first round is for his ability to impact a game as a punt returner. He finished his career with six punt returns for touchdowns and was selected as an all-American as a sophomore, when he lead the nation with an 18.2-yard punt return average and scored four touchdowns.

Another player that the Eagles have shown some interest in is former East Carolina running back and kick returner Chris Johnson. Johnson has already had a private workout in Philadelphia and in town for his official visit today, according to Scout.com's Ed Thompson.


Former ECU running back Chris Johnson
AP Photo
In his senior year at East Carolina, the explosive 5-foot-11, 195 pound Johnson put himself on many team's draft radars by rushing for 1,423 yards and 17 touchdowns on 236 carries, and catching 37 passes for 528 yards and six touchdowns, while leading the nation in all purpose yards per game with 227.69. He set a school record for most career receptions by a running back with 125 and finished his four years at East Carolina as the career leader in all-purpose yards with 6,993.

Johnson established himself as a first or second round pick in this year's draft by running the fastest 40 time at the combine in Indianapolis, blazing through the event in 4.24 seconds. He also impressed scouts with a 35-inch vertical leap, and his work ethic and attitude have only helped his draft standing.

Although some people have compared Johnson to running back Brian Westbrook because of his shiftiness and receiving abilities, the Eagles are probably more interested in using his break-away speed and instincts for returning kicks, an area where they struggled last season.

Andrew Pluta can be reached at ajp8231@gmail.com


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