This 2021 NFL Draft prospect should be looking at a position change for the next level.
Tristan Wirfs was taken 13th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2020 NFL Draft, making him the latest Iowa offensive lineman to make the jump to the league. Kirk Ferentz and his staff do a great job of molding young offensive linemen and grooming them for the next level. The Hawkeyes still have plenty of talent up front, with left tackle Alaric Jackson leading the way. Jackson is entering his senior season and is an interesting 2021 NFL Draft prospect to watch.
Jackson took over as Iowa’s starting left tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2017 and has been their primary player at the position ever since. Jackson did miss a few games in the middle of last season with a knee injury, but he came back strong at the end of the year and continued to play well. Assuming we see college football in the fall, Jackson will return as one of the most important players for the Hawkeyes on the offensive side of the ball.
Jackson’s impressive power at the point of attack is obvious on tape. He is a big and physical player who excels while moving forward. Jackson gets off of the ball quickly and does a great job of getting his hands inside to control the defender. The Iowa offensive tackle shows high-level grip strength, physically manhandling most opposing defenders after first contact.
While he is not an elite athlete at the offensive tackle position, Jackson does show enough quickness and mobility to secure blocks at the second level. He also handles power well as a pass protector, striking forward with strong hands and holding his anchor at an extremely high level.
Jackson does struggle a bit against speed off of the edge and looks uncomfortable when asked to drop back in deep pass sets. His footwork is a bit sloppy and he tends to overreach at times, setting himself up to lose against quick counter moves.
To put it simply, Jackson is a much better player when he is allowed to play forward and be aggressive. He can play that way much more often on the inside, where short and quick pass sets would undoubtedly play to his advantage.
Jackson is going to be the left tackle for the Hawkeyes in 2020, but NFL teams should look at him as a guy who would benefit from a move to offensive guard at the next level. Simply put, his weaknesses can be hidden more on the inside, allowing him to show off his obvious strengths in a big way. Personally, I am looking at Jackson as an offensive guard prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft class.