Jackson impressed with, mentoring Webb

Tarvaris Jackson has a lot of similar experiences he can share with quarterback Joe Webb, and he has familiarity with Webb as well. Jackson talked about that and his transforming role to a veteran mentor to younger players now, but mostly he was just impressed with what he has seen from Webb.

Tarvaris Jackson can relate to Joe Webb's situation. Athletic quarterbacks. Smaller schools. Alabama colleges.

In fact, Jackson hadn't just heard of Joe Webb before the Vikings drafted Webb in the sixth round this year, Jackson had actually tried to help recruit Webb to Alabama State four years ago. Webb ended up going to Alabama-Birmingham.

"Even when I was at ASU, we were trying to get him to come, but he ended up going to UAB, which is like an hour from my grandma's," Jackson said after a practice last week. "But he's doing good. I've been watching and checking him out. He's been doing pretty good so far."

When Tarvaris Jackson came into the league as a second-round draft pick, his initial tutor was Brad Johnson, who was signed by the Vikings because of his familiarity (and success) with the West Cosast offense. Making the jump from Alabama State to a complicated professional offense was easy, but so far Jackson is impressed with Webb's attempt.

"You'd think it would (be a struggle), but he's doing a great job. He's a funny kid, too. He just seems down to earth. I'm from the South, like him, so we're from the same area," Jackson said.

"He's done a great job. … He's going the right places with the football. That's the first part, get to the right position. Get the ball to the right guy on the right coverage. He's reading the coverages so far and got the ball to the right guy."

That aspect is all the more impressive considering the Vikings draft Webb with the intention of using him as wide receiver. After becoming the first player in NCAA history to throw for more than 2,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000 in consecutive seasons, the Vikings saw possibilities with him at receiver, the position he worked during Senior Bowl week in late January – in Alabama.

Jackson couldn't remember if he texted or talked to Webb in trying to woo him to Alabama State, but he was trying to get him to follow in his footsteps.

Four years later, Webb spent most of the initial rookie camp with the Vikings working at receiver, but the coaches decided to give him a look at quarterback and he left an impression.

"He has an aptitude to be a quarterback. We went and drafted him as an athlete," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "… He knows what he is doing moving around back there as a quarterback. … He processes very quickly."

Jackson knows the struggles that can ensue in trying to make the transition from college to the pros. Taking it a step further, Jackson has experienced having a starting job taken away from him in the NFL as well.

After four years of playing quarterback in the NFL, Jackson has gone from a rookie trying to process a lot of information to a veteran trying to help a rookie process that information.

"I felt like I've always been a mentor, but not at quarterback. I tried to help my receivers out, my young receivers, the whole time I've been here," Jackson said. "They ask me a lot of different questions about the offense and I try to help them out. It's kind of different now, but that's always been my approach – to help anybody I can. I'm willing to help if (Webb) has any questions."

He very well might, because the Vikings don't have plans to pull the quarterback plug on Webb anytime soon.

"We are going to continue on with repping at the quarterback," Childress said. "It's not like he is going to play quarterback on one play and go out and play wide receiver on the next play. We are trying to get him immersed in the system."

And Jackson is willing to help with that process.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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