Eagles get WR/returner in second round

April 27, 2008 10:36:41 AM PDT
Hey, Donovan, here's your playmaker. The Philadelphia Eagles selected California wide receiver DeSean Jackson with their second pick in the second round of Saturday's NFL draft, giving quarterback Donovan McNabb a potential gamebreaking target.

Minutes earlier, the Eagles chose Notre Dame defensive tackle Trevor Laws with their first pick at No. 47 overall.

The Eagles had a busy day on the phones. They traded out of the first round for the second straight year, acquired running back Lorenzo Booker and dealt a second-round pick.

But they didn't move two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard, who became expendable when All-Pro Asante Samuel signed a mega-contract on the first day of free agency.

Jackson, chosen at No. 49, could make an immediate impact as a return specialist. He returned six punts for touchdowns in three seasons at Cal.

"He's an explosive player, very fast, very quick," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "People around the league that have evaluated him put him in that exciting category."

Jackson, listed at 5-foot-11 and 178 pounds, has acknowledged that he's about 5-10 and 169 - not the 6-footer he claimed to be at Cal. That could be one reason why he slipped out of the first round.

"I've been hearing about that all my life and that's something that motivates me," Jackson said of his size. "My heart is bigger than my size."

Jackson ran a 4.35-second time in the 40-yard dash - best among receivers at the NFL combine. He has worked out with Jerry Rice for the last two months.

"He's a great influence," Jackson said. "There's just so much he's taught me."

Jackson caught 162 passes for 2,423 yards and 22 TDs in 36 games at Cal. He averaged 16.7 yards on 38 punt returns. Jackson only returned two kickoffs in college, but is expected to do that with the Eagles.

Despite playing most of last season with a badly sprained left thumb, Jackson had 65 receptions for 762 yards and six scores. He was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation's top receiver.

Jackson joins a receiving corps - Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown are Philadelphia's starters - that has lacked a deep threat since Terrell Owens left town. McNabb has been campaigning for a playmaker, and fans have been screaming for one. Jackson fits the bill, perhaps more as a Devin Hester-type on special teams.

"If he transfers all this, he can do both and help us out," Reid said. "I want to see it."

Laws (6-1, 304) had four sacks and 112 tackles in 12 games for the Fighting Irish in his senior season. He provides depth behind Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley, a pair of first-round picks in recent years.

"Trevor is a high-energy guy," Reid said. "He gives us a nice guy to work in with the two first-round picks we have starting for us."

Booker, a third-round selection by Miami, played sparingly as a rookie for the 1-15 Dolphins last season. He ran 28 times for 125 yards and had 28 catches for 237 yards.

The Eagles gave Miami a fourth-round pick (No. 115) for Booker, who complements workhorse tailback Brian Westbrook.

"I was definitely shocked," Booker said. "Because of the situation, I'm not the least bit upset."

Booker averaged 4.8 yards per carry and scored 15 TDs on the ground in four seasons at Florida State. He also had 114 catches and two TDs.

Booker joins a backfield that includes Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Tony Hunt and Ryan Moats. Westbrook went to the Pro Bowl after having his finest season last year.

"He's somebody we really liked in the draft last year," Reid said. "He's someone we had our eyes on. He does a lot of things Brian does."

In their first trade, the Eagles sent the 19th overall pick to Carolina for second- and fourth-round picks this season and a first-rounder in 2009.

The Eagles got the 43rd and 109th choices from the Panthers, who chose Pittsburgh left tackle Jeff Otah at No. 19.

"The offer was too sweet," Reid said.

They sent the 43rd pick and a fifth-rounder (No. 152) for Minnesota's second (No. 47) and fourth (No. 117). The Vikings chose Arkansas State safety Tyrell Johnson at No. 43.

Last year, Philadelphia made a deal with Dallas and ended up selecting quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round with their first choice.

The Eagles have nine picks remaining on Sunday, including one in the third round and three in the fourth. Sheppard could be packaged with some of those picks for a player who can start right away.

"Lito's a good player. I'm not going to just give him away," Reid said.