New York Jets: Austin Jackson’s rise gives Gang Green another option

Austin Jackson, USC Trojans. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Austin Jackson, USC Trojans. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Before the 2019 season, very few thought that Austin Jackson would be a first-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Now he is on the New York Jets radar.

The NFL scouting community didn’t even know if Austin Jackson would be coming out for this year’s draft or not. As the 2019 season progressed, however, it was clear that Jackson was one of the biggest reasons that the University of Southern California offensive line developed and became a PAC-12 force. So much so that the New York Jets have to consider selecting him with the 11th overall pick.

Jackson put talent and size together. At 6-6, 310 pounds, he’s a scary human being and spent plenty of time scaring PAC-12 South defensive fronts. His job wasn’t easy. Jackson had to work with three different quarterbacks due to the many injuries that USC had at the position. The Trojans were forced to change signal-callers six times last year.

That wasn’t even the toughest part of his job, however. The toughest part was having to protect a quarterback in the Air Raid system that first-year offensive coordinator Graham Harrell ran at Southern Cal.

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Whoever it was taking the snap time needed time in the pocket for deep threats Michael Pittman Jr, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns, and Drake London to get open downfield as the plays develop.

Jackson used that astonishing length he has, along with good footwork to give the Trojans great production in both the pass and run games. He was rewarded with a first-team All-PAC 12 selection this year.

Something many coaches are going to like when watching the film is his hustle in finding ways to help ball-carriers in space as they look to make their way downfield. That ability should be especially attractive to New York Jets coach Adam Gase as e looks for was to spring Le’Veon Bell from the backfield.

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A high-upside offensive lineman, Jackson was very dependable in college. At the next level, he could play either tackle spot. If the New York Jets end up trading back in the first round, he’ll be on their radar if he isn’t being considered with the 11th pick Gang Green owns.