Northern Colorado head coach on Vincent Jackson

Some draft pundits thought the Chargers selection of Vincent Jackson in the second round was a bit of a reach, what with Jackson's small-school experience and all. Kay Dalton, Jackson's head coach at Northern Colorado, believes that Jackson is ready to take the NFL by storm. Believe who you want, but Dalton sure seems to have the resume necessary to post a credible opinion.

"I coached in the NFL for 15 years," reminds Dalton, "and he's about as good as I've seen. He'll be real good for San Diego."

Dalton is very high on the man who he helped mold into what he views as an NFL-ready prospect. He feels as though Jackson's remarkable attributes are just as present off the field as they are on it, which may give some explanation as to why the character-cautious A.J. Smith was so keen on this selection.

"He's an outstanding human being," Dalton said. "He's very intelligent. He was on the dean's list and was in the school of business, which is probably the most difficult program we have here."

The interesting thing about Dalton's assessment of his former pupil is that he views Jackson's route running as one of his strengths, while many experts have cited it as something Jackson will need to work on as he adjusts to playing against professional-level competition.

"I don't think that will be a problem at all," said Dalton of getting Jackson to run precise routes. "That may have been an issue when he first got here, well not an issue but something we had to coach him up on. Now I think he's gotten it down. He understands the importance of running crisp routes and getting an exact depth on them."

Things are about to change for Jackson, however, and Dalton is well aware of it.

At Northern Colorado, Jackson could just run by people with his impressive speed. Even if they could keep up with him, few, if any, had the size to fight the ball away from him. In the NFL, that won't be the case, and Jackson will have to adjust his game accordingly.

"The thing he needs to focus on is working against bump coverage," conceded Dalton. "He needs to work to stack that corner and use his strength and size to create separation. He always had the speed to run by people in zone coverage. He just needs to work on creating space when they press him on the line."

Coach Dalton knows Jackson, and knows he is willing to put in the work necessary to be successful at the next level.

"He has parents who gave him good, athletic genes, and he's worked hard at it," Dalton said.

After speaking with Coach Dalton, the possibility of Vincent Jackson's selection being deemed a reach seems remote. In fact, it appears it may have been a stellar selection after all.

As the coach himself said, "He's an outstanding football player."

Michael Lombardo can be reached at

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