On Tuesday’s edition of the Eagle Eye in the Sky Podcast, Fran Duffy talked to Michigan OC Josh Gattis about wide receivers, what makes them successful, and how DeSean Jackson is still at the top of his game.
Gattis opened by breaking down the 3 most important aspects in building a prototypical wide receiver in today’s NFL. He highlighted great feet, balance and body control as key features in allowing a receiver to create separation.
He talked about how he’s had success with receivers who have great straight-line speed and those who haven’t, but the thing that most often distinguishes the good from the elite is their ability to get in and out of cuts, which allows them to get open.
The offensive coordinator also went into some detail about the mental aspect of the position and of route-running in particular, and went as far as to say:
“The mental part of playing receiver is the most detailed part of any position, I would argue in football. And, often times, people will say maybe it’s quarterbacks or offensive line, but I’m biased, I believe the skill and craft that it takes to play receiver in today’s age is the most detailed position on the field.”
The discussion provides a lot insight into the subtle nuances of the receiver position, and how players can find success based on the talents they have and what they are able to develop over the years.
Duffy asked Gattis about the importance of being able to track the deep ball and why it’s so valuable that DeSean Jackson excels at it. Gattis didn’t hold back with the accolades for Jackson:
“I’ve got a chance to study DeSean Jackson a few years ago, and I have to say this — not just because I’m on this podcast, but because I actually appreciate receiver play — there is nobody in the NFL that has better ball skills or ball judgement of deep balls than DeSean Jackson. He’s elite at what he does, but that’s probably one of the hardest things early on to teach guys.”
Gattis elaborated that it’s about body control and being able to track balls and having good depth perception. Being able to track the ball over the outside shoulder is what also gives wideouts a bigger catch radius, and if a guy is 5’9 but with great tracking ability, he can play like 6’0 receiver — that’s the case for Jackson.
Former teammate Gerald McCoy had similar things to say about DeSean Jackson recently, as well, and highlighted the wide receivers tracking ability.