Matchup Analysis: Marlin Jackson vs Matt Jones

Greg Talmage debuts at ColtPower with his detailed match-up analysis columns. Greg will break down the top four individual matchups in each game during the 2005 season. Watch for his daily columns Wednesday through Saturday leading up to each game.

After missing the final two games of the pre-season and Week 1, the Colts' first-round selection Marlin Jackson is now ready to see the field. And thanks to the placement of CB Donald Strickland on injured reserve this week, Marlin should see plenty of it this weekend.

Although he's not likely to be pressed into starting duties yet, Marlin will see action as the slot corner. This presents the possibility of a very interesting match-up at times, because Jacksonville often lines up their first-round pick, Matt Jones, the converted quarterback from Arkansas, as a slot receiver.

Defensing the inside slot is something Marlin excelled at while playing for the University of Michigan because he‘s the perfect prototype for it. Marlin's a big, physical corner, who is at his best pressing receivers. He's not afraid to get in receivers' faces at the line and use his hands to dictate routes. Given his height, bulk and pressing mentality, Jackson matches up well against bigger receivers. This is very important this week considering Matt Jones' 6'6 height. On the negative side, Marlin lacks ideal top-end speed and has a tendency to gamble too much in man coverage.

With his long hair, lanky frame, and awkward stride, Matt Jones does not look the part of a receiver. However, he uses his rare combination of size, athleticism and speed to present huge mismatches for the opposition.

At 6-6, he has the potential to be a big-time threat in the red zone and will use his body to box out. Since he's being converted from a quarterback to wide receiver, he still lacks experience. So he will struggle at times with recognizing zone coverage and corner placements from his new position. He also needs to improve his route running and blocking skills.

Lots of questions surround this match-up. How will Jones handle Marlin Jackson's at-the-line pressing style? Can Jones still use his body to his advantage against the physical Jackson? Will the Colts, fearing Marlin's gambling nature, give him safety help, especially considering they are without their best over-the-top coverage help safety in Joe Jefferson?

It should be fun watching these two first-rounders with such enormous potential answer these questions and more.

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