Opting to come out one year early, the Birmingham, Ala. native, Florida Gators Chad Jackson, will join a wide receiver class that is much less heralded than the other offensive skill positions in this year's draft. Jackson had his best year last year at Florida, leading the Gators with 900 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. His best game of the year came early against Wyoming when he caught 10 passes for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson is a bit of a late bloomer, as this was his only year that he was the team's No. 1 receiver. While he did show immense talent before this season he had only topped 100 receiving yards in a game once. Thus, teams may be wary of him because he is not the proven commodity that other wide receivers in the draft may be, but he has more than enough talent to warrant a first-round selection.
Jackson has the prototypical wide receiver body. He combines height (6-foot-0) with weight (213 pounds), and he has the speed to burn you deep (4.32 40 speed from National Football League Scouting Combine). Jackson also uses his height well in climbing up the ladder to out-jump opposing cornerbacks. His longest touchdown reception last year was 80 yards, so he has proven he can run with the ball after the catch and is a legitimate deep threat.
Jackson also shows up every week, only twice did he have games in which he had less then 50 yards receiving, and only once did he catch less then five passes. Against Florida State, in what was a must-win game for Florida at the end of the season, he caught nine passes for 97 yards and one touchdown. He followed up with seven receptions for 76 yards in the Outback Bowl against Iowa. This shows that he has a knack for getting open and making plays regardless of the quality of his opponent.
He also showed that he can step in the locker room, as he was one of the leaders of this Florida team which rebounded after a couple of tough years under ex-Florida head coach Ron Zook. Some may view his outspoken nature as a positive (at one point during the season he declared that Florida had the best wide receivers corps in college football), but it does demonstrate his confidence in his own ability and the fact that he has matched his comments with his play show something of his ability.
As stated above, one of the biggest knocks on Jackson is his lack of experience. His freshmen year he only recorded stats in two games, catching three passes for 38 yards in his first season. In his second season with the Gators he improved immensely but still did not show talent warranting a first-day draft pick, or even a draft pick at all. He caught only 29 passes for 648 yards. His last season is when he exploded onto the scene, but some worry whether or not he can carry his success of last season on the next level or whether he will fall back to his first two season's form
His coach at Florida, Urban Meyer, was quite critical of Jackson all season, saying that he still had a long way to go in his development as a wide receiver, which some may view as a positive, some as a negative. The talent is there, but it is very raw with Jackson, and some team will have to be patient with him.
Many teams in this draft have a need at Jackson's position which should push him up into the first round. There is no clear cut No. 1 wide receiver in this years draft class at this point (unlike last year when three went in the first 10), so Jackson could go as high as pick No. 14 with the Philadelphia Eagles. Or just as likely he could drop down to the end of the first round to the Steelers.
A lot will depend on how teams view Jackson's performance at the NFL Combine in his interviews and workouts with teams. With the amount of teams looking for a wide receiver in this years draft, it is hard to see him dropping outside of the first round. During the events of the NFL Combine, Jackson's disclosed meetings were with the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Tennessee Titans. All things considered, expect the Pittsburgh Steelers to select the former Gator with the final pick in the first round.
Sign up for KFFL's Draft Central Complete and you will gain access to Inside the League for the inside scoop ranging from which agents are representing which player to pro day results as well as much more in-depth analysis. You also receive GM Jr.'s Guide NFL Draft Guide, written by a former NFL scout who knows how to study and review players accurately as well as objectively. To top it all off, you will receive free access to KFFL's Hot Off the Wire Complete - the industry's leading NFL news service that brings you much more than news. KFFL works with individuals in the know and not hacks who pretend to know.
About Bryce McRae
Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.
Don't miss these great reports....