Chargers scouting report: Vincent Jackson

When the San Diego Chargers tabbed Vincent Jackson with their second round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, coaches and fans alike began to salivate at the possibilities of a 6-foot-5, 240 pound receiver making plays all over the field. Or, perhaps it was his admission that the Chargers were his favorite team growing up.

A product of Northern Colorado, Vincent Jackson began to excite the masses when he made his appearance at the Senior Bowl. It was no surprise that receivers' coach James Lofton met him at the middle of the field after practice to talk a little shop.

Whatever impression he made turned out to be a good one as the Bolts took him in round two.

"I'm sure it will be a tremendous transition," Jackson said of going from Northern Colorado to the NFL. "I learned at the Senior Bowl the level of skill is higher at every position. The NFL is the best of the best. I think I'll be OK. I've trained and I think I'll fit in."

Head coach Marty Schottenheimer has been watching the changing tide of wide receivers, where size has become not just a premium but the norm. He has been chasing after height for quite some time, starting with Terry Charles in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. They have since worked with players such as Kassim Osgood, Ruvell Martin and Malcom Floyd, searching for the game-changer.

While Osgood has provided some thrills with his attitude and hard work, and Martin has torn up NFL Europe, and promise was shown by Floyd during his rookie campaign, Jackson comes in more highly touted with proven red zone efficiency.

The difference between Jackson and his tall counterparts has been his ability to consistently make the reception in traffic.

The Bolts needed more depth at the position with the top receiver garnering 47 receptions a year ago. Given his level of competition, some believe Jackson will have to grow into playing in the NFL and that may be true for the 2005 season. But Antonio Gates has proven it doesn't take long to dominate.

Jackson enters the year buried on the depth chart. Reche Caldwell is in his make or break year and Eric Parker showed signs of life last year. Not to mention a certain penciled in starter named Keenan McCardell.

As most rookie receivers, he will likely take some time to get his wings, beginning the year as a situational receiver. He offers a big target for quarterback Drew Brees and given Brees' lack of arm strength, Jackson could be pivotal in making third down receptions and those in and around the goal line.

One area he has an advantage over some of the other receivers is in his blocking skills. He is a refined blocker and a willing participant in the running game. The "Big" package could feature him and Osgood on the outsides, a nightmare for any cornerback hoping to make a play.

Scouting report furnished by TFY Draft Preview:

Vincent Jackson School: Northern Colorado
Ht: 6-4.5 Wt: 241 40: 4.51 Year: 4Sr

Bio: Awarded All-Conference and All-American honors as a senior after leading the team in all receiving categories with 80/1,382/11. Multiple award winner the prior season after numbers of 66/1,462/21.

Positives: King-sized receiver who may ultimately grow into a tight end or H-back. Offers the quarterback a nice target, uses his large frame to outmuscle opponents, and displays both focus and concentration. Extends and then snatches the pass out of the air, displays good eye/hand coordination and is relatively effective running after the reception. Moves well laterally, finding the soft spot in the defense. Sells his routes, comes back to the quarterback and adjusts well to the errant throw. Physically beats down opposing defensive backs to make the reception.

Negatives: Lacks the deep speed, acceleration and more of an underneath or possession wideout. At times goes down easily after the catch.

Analysis: Ultra-productive the past two seasons, Jackson offers good potential at a number of spots in the NFL. Could be used as a king-sized possession or slot receiver for an offense, is also viewed as a "move" tight end. His ability to handle a big step up in competition will determine whether he is a practice squad prospect or a final roster player.

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