The interior offensive line class of the 2020 NFL Draft is an oddly stratified one.
Sometimes the best interior lineman is a guard, and sometimes he is a center, but we usually see guards and centers mixed in together down the draft board. But that didn’t happen this year. In 2020 it just so happens that the top interior linemen in the class are all centers. That’s good news for the New York Giants, who need a center but should be set at the guard position for the immediate future.
The only guard who will likely be in the first five interior linemen is Jonah Jackson out of Ohio State. Jackson was eligible to declare for the 2019 NFL Draft, but instead chose to use his last year of eligibility to transfer from Rutgers to Ohio State. It turned out to be a good move and Jackson could well be the first guard selected in this year’s draft.
Prospect: Jonah Jackson (G, Ohio State)
Games Watched: vs. Florida Atlantic (2019), vs. Michigan State (2019), vs. Clemson (2019)
Red Flags: none
Best: Size, athleticism, versatility, footwork
Worst: Consistency, lower body flexibility
Projection: A starting guard with scheme versatility.
Ohio State offensive lineman Jonah Jackson has good size, athleticism, technique and competitive toughness for a guard prospect at the NFL level.
Jackson was used in both man and zone blocking schemes in Ohio State’s offense and performed well with both concepts. He has the power and toughness to play in man blocking schemes and the athleticism and mobility to play in zone schemes at the NFL level.
Jackson shows quick, smooth, and crisp footwork in pass protection. He has the ability to move laterally with ease, and is able to effectively mirror athletic pass rushers and adjust to pick up stunts, twists, and blitzes. Jackson also plays with a wide base and generally good pad level, allowing him to anchor and absorb bull rushes while giving little ground. He also shows the hand usage to effectively pick up and pass stunts and twists along the offensive line, as well as adjust mid-play to pick up delayed blitzes.
Jackson plays with good strength and competitive toughness. He is capable of torquing and throwing defenders, re-anchoring against bullrushes, and consistently looks to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground. He also shows a willingness to look for work as a blocker as well as work to stay ahead of plays down the field.
Jackson needs to improve the consistency of his strikes. He can fail to gain the chestplate of athletic rushers, losing inside leverage, his own pad level, and fail to sustain his block. Jackson can also lower his head and lunge when asked to block athletic rushers, particularly when playing in space on zone plays or as a pulling guard. In those cases he can lose accuracy or leverage.
Overall Grade: 6.6 - Has the traits to become a starter early in his career, and likely immediately as a rookie. Jackson has the potential to quickly become a good starting guard. An early Day 2 value [Grading Scale]
Jonah Jackson projects as a starting guard with the versatility to play in any offensive scheme.
He has the size, frame, and play strength to play in a man blocking scheme, including the movement skills to play as a pulling guard on power run plays. Likewise, he has the athleticism and technique needed to play in a zone blocking scheme. He is generally disciplined and has good awareness of the defense to pick up and pass off defenders as they enter his zone, as well as create movement on running plays.
Jackson is an effective blocker on screen plays as well as a pulling guard. At times Ohio State would even use his mobility to further disguise play-action passes by having him pull to the C-gap and defend against edge rushers.
Jackson is a high ceiling player as a guard, but does need some work on developing consistency to reach that ceiling. At times he can lose his pad level as well as his hand placement, compromising his play strength. He also needs to do a better job of keeping his head up as he strikes defenders.
Jackson should be a plug-and-play guard at the NFL level with the versatility to fit in any scheme called by the offensive coordinator.