DeSean Jackson jumps in rankings

DeSean Jackson took a big leap in the rankings. The Washington Redskins hope he's able to maintain that spot for another year -- it would mean he's made the impact they desired.

Jackson ranks as the 27th best offensive player, according to ESPN.com's player rankings -- the highest Redskin on either side of the ball. It's a rather big leap for Jackson, who was 93rd on the list last summer. It also shows how much impact one good season makes on the rankings -- and how they measure success from the previous year as much as predict it for the upcoming one.

The question is, can Jackson return to that spot, or near it, in 2015? The Redskins clearly want to take some shots down the field, but that will require he and quarterback Robert Griffin III getting in synch. Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,323 yards last season. Both figures could be tough to match given the other weapons, from tight end Jordan Reed (if he stays healthy, that is) to receivers Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts -- not to mention running back Alfred Morris.

Here was the key information courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information on the rankings: "Last season, Jackson had 25 receptions of passes thrown at least 15 yards downfield, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. Only A.J. Green had more touchdown catches on such throws (8) than Jackson (7)." If the Redskins want that statistic to be repeated, Griffin will need help from his protection. Last year, Eagles quarterback Nick Foles was able to have more than 3.0 seconds, and a clean pocket, enough times to hit those plays. They can be slow-developing plays, so good protection is a must.

Here's a two-part series I wrote on what to expect from Jackson, based on watching every catch from last season -- and then some.

Meanwhile, linebacker Brian Orakpo fell two spots to 38. Despite the debate over exactly how good he is, Orakpo became the first Redskin in 20 years to record at least eight sacks for four straight seasons. To get a big payday, however, he'll need to probably record his first of at least 12 or more. The Redskins' pass-rushers should benefit from the tutoring by outside linebackers coach Brian Baker. Orakpo has said there's not much new for him to learn, but the Redskins have been pleased with how he's taken to Baker. Add in interior rusher Jason Hatcher and a defensive coordinator anxious to be more aggressive and Orakpo could hit that number.

Other Redskins on the defensive list: linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (67).

Other Redskins on the offensive list: running back Alfred Morris (83); tackle Trent Williams (67) and receiver Pierre Garcon (57).