In continuation of our “2017 NFL Draft Q&A” series here at Big Cat Country, I got to chat with Jack Shields of CrimsonAndCreamMachine.com — who you can follow on Twitter @jlarryshields — on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ newest offensive weapon: Dede Westbrook.
The Jaguars selected the Oklahoma standout and recipient of the 2016 Biletnikoff Award as the best receiver in the nation with the 110th overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. He enters the NFL with a shady off-the-field track record filled with domestic violence accusations, but also an electric on-the-field record: Westbrook caught 126 passes for 2,267 yards (18 yards per catch) and 21 touchdowns in his two seasons as a Sooner.
Shields offered some insight on Westbrook, both as a player and on his off-the-field issues.
1. What immediate upgrade does Westbrook bring to the Jaguars offense?
I know the squad is already in decent shape at the receiver position (big Allen Robinson fan right here), but Westbrook immediately gives the Jaguars another deep threat. Granted, his best highlights in college came against Big 12 defenses, but he has the elite speed (ran a sub-4.4 40 at Oklahoma’s Pro Day) get behind people at the next level.
2. Is Westbrook's weight — 178 pounds — a concern at the next level?
On the surface, yes. It’s more than reasonable to be concerned about the durability of a 178-pound receiver in the NFL. However, Westbrook is a wiry football player with deceptive strength. He’s demonstrated an ability absorb contact inflicted by much larger players, and he’s fairly adept at breaking tackles. I still think it’s a definite concern, so he’s going to have to add to that frame this offseason.
3. Obviously, Westbrook has off-the-field concerns, but since his two accusations of domestic violence a couple years back, has he seemingly matured as a person off the field in your time covering him?
It’s kind of hard to say because very few (including fans, media and supposedly Oklahoma’s coaches) knew about about this off-field stuff until the Tulsa World’s article on the matter. We did know about his summer 2016 arrest for trespassing, but many saw that as a minor infraction. He always seemed humble when speaking with the media during his time at Oklahoma, but the recent revelations have been troubling to say the least.
4. What kind of routes does Westbrook have no trouble running? Any routes he struggles with?
Westbrook was a very crisp route runner during his senior season at Oklahoma. Most college football fans are aware of how well he runs deep routes, but he also demonstrates great short-area quickness at the line of scrimmage.
He’s able to change direction so effortlessly that he’s capable of running any route as long as he’s given some time to learn. Oklahoma’s offense is obviously much different that what he’ll be running at the next level, but I’m very confident that route running won’t be an issue for him.
5. What is Westbrook's ceiling in the NFL? Any pro comps?
I kind of see Westbrook as a poor man’s DeSean Jackson. He has a similar frame and is a shade slower than DeSean (at least in his prime), but I actually think his ball skills are better. He’s demonstrated an ability to make difficult catches, which is not something you often see from Jackson. Part of that is likely because Jackson isn’t really used in that way, and that may be the case for Westbrook as well going forward. Regardless, Westbrook is someone who can make highlight-reel catches if need be.
Westbrook certainly sounds like an additional spark to the Jaguars offense, via Shields. Be sure to check out his work at CrimsonAndCreamMachine.com!
Check out our other 2017 NFL Draft Q&A’s:
- Marquez Williams, fullback, Miami
- Blair Brown, linebacker, Ohio
- Dawuane Smoot, defensive end, Illinois
- Jalen Myrick, cornerback, Minnesota
- Leonard Fournette, running back, Louisiana State
Stay tuned for Ryan O’Blenness’ final NFL Draft Q&A focusing on Cam Robinson!