Hue Jackson got the call from the league office on Thursday morning. He wasn’t expecting it, but it didn’t take long for him to accept, because the idea of running Colin Kaepernick’s workout for NFL scouts on Saturday got his juices flowing right away.
For the ex-Browns and Raiders coach, who has been doing some media work since his time in Cleveland came to an end, it is a chance to get back on the grass with football players again, and the chance to help a guy he’s long liked from afar.
“I’m very fond of him as a player and a person,” Jackson said on Thursday afternoon.
The NFL officially announced the arrangement hours after talking to Jackson—he’ll run the drills, with National Football Scouting president Jeff Foster overseeing the operation. The workout will take place at the Falcons’ facilities in Flowery Branch, Ga., where Jackson worked as Falcons offensive coordinator in 2007.
Jackson said he hasn’t talked to Kaepernick yet, but hopes to before the workout, so he can arrange it in a way that both serves the ex-49ers quarterback and the scouts in attendance.
“It’s an opportunity for him to showcase his talent and ability, and a chance to see where he is and what he’s been doing,” Jackson said. “I want to help him put his best foot forward, and also make sure the scouts get to see what they need to see.”
What would that be?
“That the accuracy is still there, that he still has the arm talent that had,” Jackson answered. “And that the endurance to do it is there, and that the athleticism is there.”
Jackson said the plan is to connect with Foster over the next day or so to work out logistics, but this isn’t foreign territory for the coach. He ran dozens of quarterback workouts in his coaching days, most recently doing it with the Browns in the run-up to the 2016, ’17 and ’18 drafts, putting prospects like Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes through the paces, as well as the guy Cleveland ultimately wound up drafting—Baker Mayfield.
At one point, Jackson evaluated Kaepernick himself. Jackson said before the 2011 draft, as Raiders coach, he and late Oakland owner Al Davis fell in love with the player and person.
“I wanted to draft him—he was the guy I wanted,” Jackson said. “Me and Al were plotting a way to get him, and we just couldn’t quite figure a way to pull it off.”
The Raiders didn’t have a first-round pick in 2011. Their first selection was 48 overall, and Jackson said that Kaepernick would’ve been a slam dunk pick for the team if he’d dropped that far, and that Oakland explored a move up. But San Francisco drafted him No. 36, so Jackson never got the chance to coach him.
Jackson hasn’t seen or talked to Kaepernick in years. But the impression Kaepernick made still resonates with him.
“Tremendous person, and a great player,” Jackson said. “He had the skills to throw it, to run it, there was nothing he couldn’t do on the football field. And the guy played in a Super Bowl. Hopefully, we can showcase that talent out there on Saturday.”
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