When the announcement was made that the Colts had selected Michigan CB Marlin Jackson with their first pick in the draft, the consensus in the media room was that Indianapolis had made a solid, safe pick. Some were surprised by the number of players still on the board at positions of need for the Colts' defense who were very talented players. But practically all of the comments were very positive about Jackson, feeling that he will slide right into the Colts' defensive system easily.
As to why the Colts used their first pick on a cornerback, it really boiled down to how high they were on Jackson. They needed better run support at the corners and Jackson is a big physical guy that can do it successfully in this system. Colts officials remarked about how Jackson stands up receivers and takes them out of their routes. Most significant is that his selection is a departure from many of their past CB choices who didn't have the size and strength that Jackson possesses. Bottom line, the Colts realized they need more physical players at the corners during the offseason.
Tony Dungy spoke glowingly about his new cornerback.
"We're excited," the Colts head coach said. "He played in a system very similar to what we do. He's a physical guy. That was important to us. We needed to upgrade that part of our game on defense. The coaches were really upbeat about him."
One of the questions the Colts had in regards to Jackson was whether he was better suited to play corner or safety since he played both positions in different seasons for the Wolverines.
"I asked Lloyd Carr that question the other day what he envisioned him playing," said Dungy. "And he really sees him as a corner. That's where I think he'll play."
When asked what the odds were that the Colts would use him at safety, Dungy grinned and said, " If we draft five other cornerbacks with the next five picks, we might be able to move him to safety."
The Colts' head coach explained why the Colts were so excited about Jackson. "How hard he plays," said Dungy.. "He played excited, whether it was this past year at corner or the year before at safety. He flew around the ball. I think he's a tough, physical player and enjoys playing the game. That's what you like to see."
When Marlin Jackson joined into the press conference by phone, he immediately expressed how much an honor it is to get to play for a playoff team like the Colts.
"That's what I was just telling my family," Jackson said. "I'm going to be on the same team as Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. It's great to come into an organization that's all about winning and being competitive. That's what it's about, being competitive and trying to win and trying to be the best. And that's what the organization in Indianapolis is all about."
The Colts' rookie has plenty of confidence about what he can bring to that organization. "I bring a fiery attitude and a tough, competitive corner that can cover and tackle as well, that's just going to compete every day and try to make himself and his teammates better."
Jackson got plenty of opportunity to compete at Michigan, even when the Wolverines were on the practice field. He usually lined up against WR Braylon Edwards in practice at Michigan. Edwards was the third pick overall in this year's draft.
"We used to go at it every day," said Jackson.."We made it easy for each other on Saturdays, going against that high level of competition every day in practice. We made each other better."
Of course, it won't get any easier for Jackson with the Colts. Now he gets to practice against All-Pro WR Marvin Harrison.
"I think it's going to be a big difference, but I'll be for it," said Jackson. "Marvin's a smaller, quicker guy, more elusive and probably runs crisper routes than Braylon does, but I'll have to get better. Going against a guy like him, I'm a competitor, and that is only going to make me better."