2021 NFL Draft: Alaric Jackson needs to bounce back in 2020.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have been a pretty consistent source for NFL talent at tight end, defensive back, and on the offensive line over the last couple of decades.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz is a former offensive line coach in the NFL, and his program has developed some of the most pro-ready linemen at every position on the line, including 2020 first-round pick Tristan Wirfs who will start at right tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season.
One of Wirfs’ assignments in 2019 was to play some left tackle with starter Alaric Jackson suffering a knee injury very early in the season.
Jackson struggled to regain form upon his return from the knee injury and admitted he had some jitters coming back from it.
Jackson redshirted for the Hawkeyes in 2016 but was named a Freshman All-American in 2017 and has a lot of really good film out there. His 2019 season was derailed due to injury, but there is potential that Jackson could climb his way back into the first or second round discussion of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Jackson can steamroll
Although he’s not known for being quite as physically dominant as his former teammate Tristan Wirfs, Jackson can steamroll defenders in the running game.
Despite his injury in 2019 and his subsequent struggle upon returning (against a very tough Michigan front), Jackson was still named a second- or third-team All-Big Ten performer by coaches and media.
He’s got good feet in pass protection and does a good job mirroring most types of rushers. He has the length and strength to keep power rushers away and enough foot quickness to match speed rushes.
Footwork remains his main concern, despite having athletic and nimble feet in general. Jackson struggled at times to match counter moves from rushes, especially in that game against Michigan with some talented rushers who beat Jackson to the inside a few too many times.
With that being said, Jackson will be one of the most experienced and decorated offensive line prospects coming out when all is said and done with his career at Iowa. He showed last season tremendous mental fortitude coming back from a knee injury against that talented Michigan front, and rebounded well over the course of the season even as he was knocking rust off.
With a fully healthy 2020 campaign, Jackson should definitely be on the radar as one of the top offensive tackle prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft class.