Former USC offensive tackle Austin Jackson has been a popular player linked to the NY Giants in the 2020 NFL Draft process.
Throughout this entire draft process, I’ve been pretty clear that I believe the NY Giants need to come out of this draft with massive upgrades along the offensive line. Big Blue has a major need for a center, but even more importantly, the team has just about zero answers for the future at the offensive tackle position — only one of the most important positions in football.
However, the one thing GM Dave Gettleman cannot do is reach for a raw tackle that has a high chance of being a bust, which is exactly the impression I’ve gotten while evaluating former USC left tackle Austin Jackson.
When you turn on the tape, it’s easy to see his pure athletic ability and frame as immediate pluses. But, his main issue is that he struggles to properly use his hands to his advantage and as a result was soften bullied by the top-end pass rushers he faced in college.
A perfect example came in the last game of Jackson’s three-year career at USC against top edge prospect, AJ Epensa. Epensa used his it’s to get the better of the athletically superior Jackson to the tune of 2.5 sacks and it could have been a lot worse than that.
Under the right coaching staff and in the right situation, one could make a case on a team with an established offensive line group taking a swing at the upside Jackson possesses in the second round; that is not the situation the NY Giants are currently in.
After Jerry Reese neglected the offensive line for years and Ereck Flowers blew up in the team’s face as one of the biggest busts in team history, Gettleman has to make sure he selects a tackle with a high floor to avoid another disaster.
Since Big Blue’s last Super Bowl win in 2011, you could make a solid argument that the NY Giants’ offensive line has been amongst the handful of worst position groups in the entire NFL during that time span.
Austin Jackson to the Giants at pick #36 has been about as popular a mock pick as you could possibly have that late into the draft this year. Most recently, Mel Kiper of ESPN mocked Jackson to the Giants in this spot during his latest mock draft this week.
That would be a disaster.
Jackson struggled mightily against the few premier pass rushers he faced in college, especially during his last season which is never something you want to see. While the NY Giants will not likely not be Super Bowl contenders in 2020 and have the time to properly develop an offensive tackle, Jackson is far too risky for Big Blue to take a chance on in that spot.
Many experts have begun to push him all the way into the middle-to-back end of the first round, with most believing there will be as many as 6-8 offensive tackles selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Even though the fact that this is one of the deepest offensive tackle classes in recent memory seems to lend itself well to the NY Giants, waiting until #36 and settling for as low as the 8th best tackle in the draft and feeling panicked to do so is not a prudent strategy.
Austin Jackson may parlay his raw athletic talent and frame into a successful NFL career one day, it just shouldn’t be with the NY Giants.