In the sixth of our ‘Ones to Watch’ series we turn our focus to the offensive line and to the Iowa left tackle Alaric Jackson – the man who kept Buccaneers 1st round pick in 2020 Tristan Wirfs over on the right hand side of the Hawkeyes line.
With a build up like that, and having seen how well Wirfs has played in his rookie year, you might expect that we’d be talking about Jackson being a potential top 10 selection but that doesn’t seem to be the case right now. Indeed I’ve seen and heard several commentators suggesting Jackson likely won’t be picked until day three – so why is that?
Well, firstly there are concerns about his size. At 6’6 and 320lbs that feels a bit of a silly thing to be saying but its his arm length that causes him problems in pass protection in particular. With that relative lack of length he can struggle to win the leverage battle against oncoming pass rushers.
With edge rushers in the NFL tending to be bigger and more powerful, there is a feeling that Jackson might be best kicked inside to Guard – as former Iowa linemen Marshal Yanda and Brandon Scherff did successfully. He certainly has the attributes to be a good player inside with both good power and quickness as well as high levels of game awareness.
It will be interesting to see where he lines up at the Senior Bowl – does he want to try and demonstrate that he can play the money position of left tackle, as he has done at Iowa, or try and appeal to more teams as a versatile player by spending some time at guard.
Sides that may want to take a good look at Jackson, in our view, are likely to include the Miami Dolphins who could upgrade at several spots on their line, the Baltimore Ravens who of course benefitted from having Marshal Yanda on their roster for a number of years, and the New York Giants for whom Jackson could provide some flexibility as they look to build a line to protect Daniel Jones.