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Austin Jackson NFL draft profile and fantasy projection

We break down 2020 NFL Draft prospect Austin Jackson. The left tackle out of USC is one of the better offensive line talents available.

Southern California Trojans offensive tackle Austin Jackson against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium.  Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Jackson is one of the many offensive linemen who could be selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He was USC’s starting left tackle for the last 25 games of his collegiate career and finds himself behind other notable prospects like Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, and Andrew Thomas. The left tackle position is an important one in today’s pass-oriented league, so teams will be interested in seeing what Jackson has to offer.

Jackson is a little more raw than some of the other offensive linemen he’s up against. He won’t be 21 years old until the middle of May and is one of the better athletes available at his position. Is an option with more solid fundamentals what’s best for teams looking for talent on the offensive line? Maybe so. But Jackson has other abilities that can make up for his weaknesses.

Scouting Report

Jackson’s 40-yard dash time and vertical jump didn’t match up with Wirfs’ freakish numbers, but he does have above average athleticism and explosiveness. His quick feet and flexibility on the edge helps him recover more effortlessly than most when he makes mistakes.

Jackson’s feet are quick, but his footwork isn’t sound. Below average technique can put him at a disadvantage, but his instincts and physical gifts allow him to work around it. He also needs to improve his hand usage to fend off defensive linemen.

Here’s what scouts had to say about Jackson.

Jackson has loads of athletic ability and play talent that is waiting to be developed and harvested. Inconsistent hand placement and footwork could be exploited early on if teams try and rush him into the starting lineup, but issues are correctable. — NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein

Austin Jackson is a promising OT prospect who has all of the physical tools to develop into a quality starter — but there’s significant improvement needed in his fundamentals before he’s ready to fill such a role. — The Draft Network’s Kyle Krabbs

Mock Draft Results

Mel Kiper, ESPN: Out of first round
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com: Miami Dolphins at #26
Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Jacksonville Jaguars at #42
Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire: Out of first round

Rookie year impact

Jackson could become an above average starting tackle, but that might not happen during his rookie season. If he does end up starting in 2020, it’ll likely be for a rebuilding team that’s a few years away from being a contender.

He should get better as a pro. But how much can he improve? That’ll be something to monitor for the next few seasons. Don’t expect him to be the anchor of an elite offensive line too soon.