History has not been kind to free agent wide receivers who sign with new teams. Vincent Jackson, however, can be chalked up as an exception.
Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season, and he has exceeded the highest of expectations. With nearly 1,400 yards and a league leading 19.2 yards per catch a year ago, Jackson has picked up where he left off last year. He has already topped the 1,000 yard mark with over 15 yards per catch and seven touchdowns. This year has been particularly impressive, as he has faced constant double coverage for most of the season, thanks to season ending injuries to star rusher Doug Martin and No. 2 receiver Mike Williams. The way he’s done it has also been remarkable, as he has been under 50 yards receiving just four times this season, being a constant force to a passing game that has ranked at the bottom for most of the season.
There are a few things that make Jackson such a hard man to cover. For one, he has an extremely rare combination of size and speed. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, he is not only a guy that can catch high passes in double coverage, but his quickness makes it difficult to keep up with him throughout the game. Another is his versatility. He can go to the slot just as well as the outside, and he can be a deep threat just as well as a possession receiver. His ability to make any catch at any time is simply impressive. All in all, I believe he is the most underrated receiver in the league and a top-10 talent.
With Jackson being on the wrong side of 30, the Bucs need to make sure that his efforts start meaning more than just stats on paper. Next year, hopefully all of their weapons will be healthy and the big-play star will get the appreciation and recognition that he deserves.