The Los Angeles Rams continue to round out their offensive line after resigning Austin Blythe and Andrew Whitworth. It remains a high priority to bring in able-bodied personnel to fill in gaps at offensive tackle.
Former USC OT Austin Jackson, who is foregoing his senior season, would be the perfect fit. However, he projects much higher on most draft boards and is sure to be gone before the Rams’ second round pick at No. 52. Of course, General Manager Les Snead might still have something to say about that position with his penchant for draft day flair and antics.
COLLEGE STATS AND HONORS:
Collegiate career: USC 2017-2019; 26 games (12 starts)
Honors: First Team All Pac-12 (2019); Pac-12 Football Offensive Lineman of the Week (9/9/19)
Not usually something you would grade a football player on, but Jackson’s family-first mentality is worth mentioning. Prior to his junior season, he donated bone marrow to his sister, and worked himself back into shape to be named the starter for USC. He earned Player of the Week honors in Week Two of the season.
Jackson’s athleticism in run and pass blocking allowed QB Kedon Slovis and the running backs of the team to produce as well as they did in the Air Raid offense USC ran. Jackson’s strength easily allowed him to block for the run into the second level of the defense and gave him the ability to provide stance stability while pass blocking.
Jackson has quick feet with the ability to use his length to take a pass rushers wide. He has polished technique, decent hand placement and occasionally decent balance working for him. Jackson graded better as a RT, however, with Whitworth signing to a three-year extension could condition and help him transition to LT as a potential prospect project.
Speed rushers on the edge force Jackson to quickly adjust his blocking techniques, thus creating balance issues for him. Jackson finds himself on his heels or off balance when blocking faster defenders. If bull-rushed, Jackson finds himself on the ground because he is unable to clamp down enough to hold the block. Though his hands are strong, and he uses them insufficiently, he needs to learn better techniques and work on speed drills.
EXPECTED DRAFT ROUND:
Jackson is an elite OT in this year’s draft. There should be no reason why he isn’t a first round draft pick. Probably no less than six NFL teams will be looking for offensive lineman in the first round. Jackson could go anywhere from 15 to 32. Snead would likely need to make trades to move into the first round if he wants a shot at the local star from USC.