The 2020 Senior Bowl is in the books, and there were a number of stand outs throughout the week from both the North and South teams. One college team that had numerous standouts was Ohio State. Wide receiver K.J. Hill showcased his elite route running in the one-on-ones, and defensive tackle Davon Hamilton was very strong and explosive all week on the interior. One underrated performance during the week, though, was Ohio State guard Jonah Jackson.
Jackson started his college career with Rutgers, where he was named a team captain and an Honorable-Mention All-Big Ten pick in 2018 for the Scarlet Knights. He eventually grad-transferred to Ohio State to get more exposure for the upcoming NFL Draft after his senior season.
The move ended up being a good one, as he was named an All-Big Ten First Team member in 2019 and was invited to the 2019 Senior Bowl. He looked very comfortable at the Senior Bowl, as he consistently dominated one-on-ones with his combination of strength and agility.
In today’s film piece, I will be looking at the complete game of Jonah Jackson and why he should be climbing up draft boards after a very good Senior Bowl performance. After a dominant senior season and very good Senior Bowl, there is no reason why Jackson shouldn’t be a top-50 pick come the 2020 NFL Draft.
Let’s start with the less fun but more important ability of pass blocking. Offensive linemen in the NFL have to be able to pass block nowadays, as the pass game has risen to heights that the league has never seen. With quarterbacks breaking records left and right each season, it is up to these offensive linemen to keep their signal-caller from taking hits every game.
Jackson is very solid in this area because he operates from a very good base. The base and footwork are everything in pass pro, and he is rarely off with his synchronization of these two areas. He does get in trouble with overstepping or over-committing at times with his feet, but once he has his defender lined up, he is solid. He packs a powerful punch and has good length that allows him to grab hold of blocks early in his reps. He is patient with his strikes and doesn’t fall off blocks too often. His best attribute in this area is how he rolls with defensive counters and adjusts his hands constantly to win position. He rarely gets beat cleanly in pass protection and is very sturdy and reliable in this area.
Hip flexibility and agility are sorely underrated parts of offensive line play. It’s more prominent in zone blocking schemes, but having good hip flexibility helps in all areas of offensive line play. In pass protection, it helps linemen navigate and move defensive linemen where they need to be. In run blocking, it helps open up lanes for runners to find space on the interior of the defense.
Jackson is a very good run blocker, mainly because of his hip flexibility. He is able to effortlessly reach three techs and other difficult blocks on the defensive line with his quickness but he shields the play to the offense’s favor with his hips. He doesn’t just engage his block in the hole; he angles the defender away from the running back in order to create more space. Notice in these clips how he not only reaches these blocks, but also how quickly he is able to turn the defender out of the play to open a hole. With this key trait, Jackson could be a key piece to a team that utilizes zone blocking in their offense.
Moving in Space / Operating as a Puller
Piggybacking on Jackson’s athleticism, he is excellent in space. He can climb to the second level, move as a puller on sweeps and stretches, and get down the field in the screen game. For a player who is 6’3″ and 310 pounds, he is uniquely nimble and mobile and is able to get out into space with relative ease.
Once he gets out into space, he is great with the angles he takes and how he targets his defenders. He stays square as he climbs to the next level and kicks out linebackers and safeties with ease. When pulling, he moves quickly down the line of scrimmage and jolts defenders with excellent power and pop. He seals the edge off with relative ease and makes life easier for his running back. He will be an extremely valuable asset for whichever team drafts him due to his athleticism and his ability to get to the second level and win in space.
The most entertaining aspect of offensive line play is finishing blocks. There is no better feeling in the world than using your strength and leg drive to put an opposing player into the ground. Jackson is dominant in every aspect of finishing blocks and playing mean. He has excellent leg drive and strength, and he uses these two attributes to finish a majority of his run blocks. In pass protection, he uses his hip flexibility and strength to wear down defenders and drive them to the ground. He also constantly looks for work and buries unsuspecting defensive linemen who are engaged in other blocks. Whoever adds this offensive guard will be adding a powerful and mean interior presence to their team.
Overall it is very easy to like a player like Jonah Jackson, an All-Academic player who grad-transferred to a dominant school, won a starting job, and continued to improve his play over time. He isn’t perfect; he does have some issues with over-committing in pass protection and whiffing on some blocks, but what he can do is intriguing.
He is powerful yet agile and athletic. On top of that, he finishes blocks with relative ease and looks to knock players around any chance he gets. He should be an immediate plug-and-play starter at the the next level for whatever team drafts him. With his strong Senior Bowl performance and senior tape, Jackson should be a near lock to be a top-50 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.