5. Austin Jackson – USC
If Mekhi Becton does move up the draft board and is not a viable option as a second-round selection for the NY Giants, it would be wise to turn their attention to Austin Jackson of USC, who is expected to still be available early in the second round.
Jackson represents another high-upside tackle who could develop into an All-Pro in due time. He’s 6’6″ and 310-pounds and his frame presents the opportunity to add mass and strength in the NFL.
Jackson is one of the most athletic tackles in the draft. He has extremely quick feet, ideal length and is extremely graceful and under control. As a result, he comes off the ball hard, is able to seal off blocks and gets to the second level with relative ease.
Despite possessing great athletic ability and size, Jackson represents a bit of a developmental project, as he needs to refine a number of key skills. Perhaps the most concerning is the fact that he tends to tip-off whether the offense is planning to call a run or pass play based upon his stance on the line. He will need to rectify that quickly if he hopes to have success in the NFL.
In addition, he is a bit soft at times and lacks the mean streak that franchises look for in their offensive linemen. He possesses only an average punch, lacks elite strength, doesn’t sustain blocks with great consistency and does not have an explosive first punch. As a result, he struggles at times defending speed rushers.
Many of these issues could be addressed by adding size and strength and with a few minor adjustments to his technique. Despite some of the knocks against him, Jackson showed the ability to be a solid pass protector at USC. He recovers quickly and shows a great deal of hustle and work ethic.
Jackson also demonstrated excellent leverage in his run blocking and is much more advanced in run blocking schemes than pass blocking. He currently projects as a better right tackle or guard in the NFL than a left tackle.
However, if he is able to add mass and strength and refine his skills, he could represent a potential steal at left tackle for the NY Giants in round two.