NFL draft preview: Virginia FB Rashawn Jackson
As was chronicled in this story on Monday, Rashawn Jackson enters draft weekend amid an interesting predicament. He's among the top fullbacks available at a position that is undergoing an evolution in the NFL. Some teams have de-emphasized the position, which contributed to only two fullbacks hearing their names called in the 2009 draft.
Jackson will likely get drafted this weekend, but there is no consensus on when and where. For that matter, Jackson is not even buying all the hype that he's the top fullback in the draft.
"I'll consider myself the first fullback," Jackson said, "when I am the first fullback taken."
The approach is more about pragmatism than humility. Jackson emulates the Philadelphia Eagles' Leonard Weaver, a Pro Bowler who earned the largest contract for a fullback. Weaver was an undrafted free agent. Fellow Virginia product Jason Snelling was a seventh-round pick, and is now one of the most productive players at the position in the NFL.
"Even if I'm not the first fullback taken, as long as I have the opportunity to represent myself, my family and this great university, that's all I need," Jackson said. "Whether it's third, fourth, fifth, free agency -- that's all that's really important."
Jackson has stated a goal to help fans rethink what fullbacks are supposed to do. He led the Cavaliers in rushing last season and proved to be a capable receiver out of the backfield.
Former Virginia Coach Al Groh alluded to Jackson performing 360-degree dunks on the basketball court as a testament to Jackson's athleticism, although Jackson ran the 40-yard dash in an underwhelming 4.73 seconds in February's scouting combine.
Jackson attributed the time to a hamstring injury, but was proud that he finished the drills.
"What I did do at the combine and that I hope guys picked up on was the fact that I finished," Jackson said. "They actually had to pull me out of the five-cone drill... Even though I was hurt, I said I don't care what the time is, this isn't about time. It's football. It's a rugged man's sport, I'll go run it. And the coaches were like, 'we admire your heart, we like that, but it'd be a stupid decision. Don't be stupid. This is the NFL, this isn't college anymore.'"
It's that attitude that Jackson hopes teams have learned through the pre-draft process. The reason why Jackson remains so confident is because he feels his game film -- and his reputation -- can trump anything else. That productions and those statistics are why Jackson could become the first fullback selected despite anything that happened after the season.
"My resume will back that up," Jackson said. "You've been around long enough to see me move around and do things unselfishly that I probably shouldn't have been doing, but it was all part of one goal, and that was to win. I'll sell myself as someone who will do whatever it takes to win."
April 22, 2010; 12:57 PM ET
| Tags: Al Groh, Rashawn Jackson, Virginia football
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