The list of failed defensive lineman draft picks for the Chiefs in the last decade or so is a rather frightening one.

There was Ryan Sims and Eddie Freeman and Junior Siavii and Turk McBride and Tank Tyler and Alex Magee, just to name a few.

And until this year, perhaps, many fans were ready to throw another name into that infamous group: Tyson Jackson, the third overall pick of the 2009 draft.

This year, Jackson has finally come into his own under new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and new head coach Andy Reid, both of whom simply gush when they speak of Jackson.

"He's just an incredibly alert and smart football player," Sutton says. "You know, he's not going to get all the publicity because he does all the dirty work in there. But he's having a great season.

"The hard job is to go in there and bang heads and nobody knows or sees what you're doing. Everybody would like to be the guy that got the sack or the interception or whatever, but somebody has to do these other jobs up front. That's what he does."

Reid repeatedly has called Jackson one of the smartest defensive linemen he's ever coached.

"I will put my money on him as being one of the smartest defensive linemen in the National Football League," Reid said again this week. "All the little things, like just knowing what's going on prior to the snap. I'm not sure I've been around one that quite has that feel that he has. He's very intelligent. I don't know what his GPA was or anything like that. I'm just telling you, football-wise, he is a sharp cookie."

It's a compliment Jackson cherishes.

"Oh man, I love it," Jackson says. "For a guy like coach Reid, who has been around football as long as he has, to make a statement like that, that means a lot. It means he appreciates what I do.

"I think he notices what I do in terms of pre-snap, looking at what formations the other team is in, and what plays they might run. I think he recognizes that I know that stuff. That makes me proud."

Jackson's statistics by themselves probably won't wow anyone. He has 18 tackles and two sacks in seven games.