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Austin Jackson nabbed as a ‘boom-or-bust’ 2020 NFL Draft prospect

A “ton of physical upside” carries the positives on Jackson’s selection as a volatile prospect

NFL Combine - Day 3

The 2020 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and with that, mock drafts and player evaluations are flying off the presses. Bleacher Report writer Brent Sobleski penned an article this week discussing the biggest boom-or-bust prospects in the draft itself, landing former USC Trojan tackle Austin Jackson at number four.

The top of the 2020 offensive tackle draft class is stacked. As many as seven offensive tackles could hear their names called during the first round.

USC’s Austin Jackson tends to find himself rated somewhere between the fifth or seventh option alongside Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, Alabama’ Jedrick Wills Jr., Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, Houston’s Josh Jones and Boise State’s Ezra Cleveland.

Jackson’s standing has more to do with inconsistencies found within his game rather than poor upside.

At his best, the 6’5”, 322-pound left tackle is a silky smooth pass protector with outstanding movement skills and a quality pass set. At his worst, Jackson’s technique breakdowns allow too many pressures, while he can struggle at the point of attack in the run game.

”There is a ton of physical upside there and he’s just 20, so he will continue to grow and get stronger,” a West Coast area scout told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread. “But he might be better suited to play guard.”

The early entrant struggled against the better pass-rushers he faced last season, particularly those with power-based games.

Some of this may be due, in part, to Jackson’s inability to complete a full offseason regimen prior to his junior campaign after he donated bone marrow to his sister, who suffered from a genetic disorder known as Diamond-Blackfan anemia. The decision required a leave of absence from the program from which he returned to the team just prior to the start of the 2019 campaign. Even then, the Phoenix native wasn’t allowed to do full workouts until a few weeks into the season, which hurt his progress.

While Jackson’s actions are amazing and speak well of the person, the idea of being behind during a time of global uncertainty won’t necessarily help his draft status. Whatever franchise select Jackson must do so knowing he’s a long-term project and not a short-term solution.

Jackson certainly did have some inconsistencies and one could definitely argue that he’s a boom-or-bust prospect at just age 20. Still, isn’t that what the entire NFL draft is? Selecting prospects based upon athletic testing and former production with the hopes they continue to do what they did in college, at the professional level?

That, by the very definition, is boom or bust (if you can’t tell, I put very little value or emphasis into the boom nor the bust monikers). Still, he brings up good points in the writeup, showcasing that some teams think he may be better off playing guard.

Positional versatility is definitely something that could only be seen as a plus for offensive linemen at this stage as well as his youth and ability to grow with his new team.

Personally, I think Jackson is a lot more boom, than he will be bust, but we’ll just have to see.

Where do you see Jackson being drafted later this month?