Lawrence Jackson Needs to Step Up

Lawrence Jackson is a physical specimen. At 6-foot-4, 271 pounds, he possesses characteristics that make general managers salivate.

To compliment his NFL-sized frame, Jackson shows good power and exceptional quickness for a man of his stature.

His potential as a productive defensive end in the NFL is one of many reasons why the Seattle Seahawks spent a first-round draft pick on him a few years ago. Unfortunately, things haven’t quite worked out as planned.

Jackson has never developed into a formidable pass rusher at the professional level. Two years removed from his selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, Jackson is looking more and more like a traditional draft “bust.”

The 2008 draft, however, probably won’t go down as a great year for defensive ends and pass rushers. Not unlike Lawrence Jackson, a handful of former first-round picks are struggling to impress the teams that invested in them.

The three defensive ends taken ahead of Lawrence Jackson in the first round – Chris Long, Vernon Gholston, and Derrick Harvey – have combined for only 14.5 sacks in two NFL seasons. Right on par with his draftmates, Jackson has only collected 6.5 sacks.

Jackson has had opportunities. In two seasons, he has played in every game and started twenty-four of them. Since his first NFL game, Jackson has averaged about 37 snaps per week – roughly averaged, he has been on the field about half of the time.

We’ve heard reasons for limited production from Jackson: minor injuries, coaching changes, unspecified role, confusion, etc. At this point, they’re starting to become excuses.

According to several reports, Lawrence Jackson has been passed on the depth chart by newly converted defensive end Red Bryant. Although it is only minicamps, this glimpse at the competition can only mean a few things: Red Bryant has improved and is excelling in his new role, or Lawrence Jackson hasn’t developed or impressed the new coaches.

It is time for Lawrence Jackson to step up.

Patrick Kerney announced his retirement. Darryl Tapp was traded to Philadelphia. The Seattle Seahawks desperately need someone who can get after the quarterback.

Lawrence Jackson should be that guy.

I don’t have a problem with Red Bryant earning a spot with the first-team defense; competition is always a good thing for a football team to have. But the window of opportunity for Jackson was wide open and he failed to seize it.

I’m not ready to declare Lawrence Jackson to a be the next draft bust, but he needs to start producing like the player the Seahawks envisioned when they invested a first-round pick two years ago.

Shaun Dolence: dolencesm@gmail.com
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Tags: Chris Long Darryl Tapp Defense Defensive End Derrick Harvey Draft Bust Lawrence Jackson Minicamps NFL NFL Draft Patrick Kerney Pete Carroll Red Bryant Seattle Seahawks Vernon Gholston

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