Part of the art of evaluating college prospects is not just figuring out who they are as players, but figuring out how their skill sets could be used best at the next level.
Some players are able to get along perfectly fine at one position the collegiate level, but just can’t make the transition to the same position in the NFL. In some cases its a matter of size or athleticism, in others its a technique issue. Clemson’s Jackson Carman is just such a prospect. He has served Clemson well as their left tackle over the last two seasons, starting 27 there over that period. However, he has some pretty significant athletic limitations that could make staying at tackle a tough proposition in the NFL, and he might see much more success as a guard.
That could work to the advantage of the New York Giants, who might just find themselves in need of a guard prospect come the draft.
Prospect: Jackson Carman
Games Watched: vs. Ohio State (2019), vs. Syracuse (2020), vs. Ohio State (2020)
Games: 27 (12 in 2020)
Best: Size, length, play strength, competitive toughness
Worst: Foot speed, blocking radius
Projection: Starting guard in a man-gap or inside zone blocking scheme.
(Carman is LT No. 79)
Clemson’s lineman Jackson Carman is a big, long, and powerful offensive line prospect.
Carman aligned as Clemson’s left tackle over the last two seasons, starting 27 games at the position. He shows solid short-area quickness, and is able to anchor well against bullrushes. Carman uses his length well as a pass protector, often forcing them to rush more widely or disrupting their balance with a well-timed strike. He also shows the ability to process stunts and twists well, passing off defenders to avoid allowing free rushers.
Carman is a powerful run blocker with good technique and great competitive toughness. Carman plays with very good leverage when blocking downhill, with good pad level and fitting his hands well to maximize his play strength. He is routinely able to generate movement along the line of scrimmage, as well as dig defenders out of gaps. He has enough athleticism to pull effectively, as well as get to the second level to block linebackers or defensive backs.
He plays with a mauler’s mentatility, constantly looking to finish his blocks with the defender on the ground, or look for work if he doesn’t have anyone to block.
Carman has several notable limitations at the tackle position which will likely make a move inside necessary at the NFL level. He doesn’t have a traditional kick-slide, instead taking choppy steps in his pass sets. This becomes an issue when asked to widen the pocket, block defenders rushing from wide alignments, or when asked to block for plays which take longer to develop. In those instances, Carman can struggle to beat defenders to landmarks, as well as have issues syncing his hands and feet. He can also be prone to losing his pad level and lunging at defenders when faced with speed or wider pass sets.
Overall Grade: 7.5 - This prospect has the traits to start in the NFL, but also has scheme limitations and a position change introduces uncertainty.
Jackson Carman projects best as a guard in a power blocking scheme at the NFL level.
While Carman was able to be an effective offensive tackle at the collegiate level, his game is better suited to the interior offensive line in the NFL. He might be a bit tall for an NFL guard, but he generally plays with a solid pad level — when he isn’t asked to move much. Likewise, his issues with footwork can compromise his hands and lead to lunging when faced with speed or wide rushers. A move to guard should remove those deficiencies as well as maximize his strengths as a blocker.
Carman is a solid pass protector when he doesn’t have to move too much. He has enough short area quickness to get into position against and mirror most interior defensive linemen. Play strength and competitive toughness are Carman’s calling cards as a blocker, and once he is in position he is difficult to move. He has plenty of strength to anchor against almost any bull rusher, and enough power to dig stubborn defenders out of gaps when he is playing with leverage.
A move to guard will also play well to his strengths as a run blocker. He is fully capable of generating movement along the line of scrimmage in the NFL, and while he isn’t athletic enough to play tackle, he should be a pretty athletic guard. He is able to move well enough to act as a pulling guard in man-gap schemes, as well as execute inside zone blocking schemes.
Of course there is uncertainty any time a player is asked to change position. Carman will need to get used to the greater speed along the interior, but he should have the quickness to get out of his stance and get his hands up to block. Teams looking to emphasize a power run game and who don’t mind a little extra work will likely get good value from Carman, though teams that prize athleticism in their blockers should probably stay away.