Jonah Jackson may have started his career with one of the worst teams in college football, but the interior offensive lineman was able to finish his college career with one of the best. The exposure Jackson was able to get with Ohio State in 2019 definitely boosted his stock ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft, where Jackson should hear his name called at some point during the three-day event.
During his high school career in Media, PA, Jackson played primarily at left tackle and defensive tackle. As a senior at Penncrest High School, Jackson earned first team All-Delaware County and All-Central Athletic League honors. Jackson’s performance in high school allowed him to become a three-star recruit, but Rutgers was the only Power 5 school to offer him a scholarship.
Jackson’s career at Rutgers got off to a quiet start, as the offensive lineman redshirted in his first season on campus. As a redshirt freshman, Jackson appeared in 12 games, but he didn’t see his first start until his third year in the program, starting six games for the Scarlet Knights, with five of those starts coming at center.
It wasn’t until 2018 when Jackson’s career really started to take off. Jackson found his spot on the offensive line of the Scarlet Knights, starting 11 of 12 games at right guard. What he showed on the field earned him some notice from the rest of the Big Ten. Despite Rutgers only winning one game, the offensive line of the Scarlet Knights only allowed 1.33 sacks per game. Jackson earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors for his steady play on the field.
Following his redshirt junior season, Jackson decided it would be best to see what else was out there, entering the transfer portal. Ohio State got a bit of a leg up on earning the transfer commitment on Jackson, since former co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash was in charge of the Scarlet Knights. With his prior relationship with Urban Meyer and the rest of the Ohio State staff, Ash was able to give Jackson a little insight on what life with the Buckeyes had to offer. It didn’t take long for Jackson to decide that Columbus was the place for him.
The OG got a late start with Ohio State, missing spring practices because he still had classwork to finish off at Rutgers, but it didn’t take the offensive lineman long to assert himself once he joined the team, pretty quickly earning the role as starting left guard. With Jackson, center Josh Myers, and right guard Wyatt Davis, Ohio State fielded one of the most dominant interior offensive lines in the country, as evidenced by the seasons quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins were able to have in 2019.
After spending four seasons at Rutgers and seeing the Scarlet Knights win just 11 combined games, Jackson was able to enjoy plenty more success in his only season with the Buckeyes, as Ohio State won 13 games in 2019. Not only was Jackson part of a successful team, but he earned some personal accolades as well, as he was named first team All-Big Ten and a third-team All-American. For the year, Jackson was credited with 79 knockdowns by Ohio State, but those numbers didn’t include what he was able to do in the loss to Clemson.
While Jackson’s name won’t be one of the first ones called in this year’s NFL Draft, there seems to be no doubt that he will be a starter in the NFL in due time. One thing that teams will love about Jackson is his versatility since in the NFL every roster spot matters. Even though he is a few years removed from playing center, he still does have familiarity with the position, and would be able to step into the role if needed.
Another plus for Jackson is the adaptability he showed with his move to Ohio State. Jackson went from one of the worst teams to one of the best teams in the country and he wasn’t phased by the competition he faced in Columbus, earning a starting spot on the offensive line with relative ease. Had someone not known, they would think Jackson had been with the Buckeyes his whole career since the offense seemed like it took no time at all to adjust to the addition of his skillset on the line.
Jackson would probably fit in better with teams that prefer to move the football through the air, since the former Buckeye has shown to be strong in pass protection. With a 33.5-inch reach, Jackson has the ability to keep opposing pass rushers at bay, giving his quarterback time to scan the field and find the best option. He does possess a high football IQ, which only grew when he was able to spend a year under Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa.
There will be some areas that Jackson has to work on if he wants to be a difference maker at the next level, though. One area that he will have to dedicate time on is his height when he is blocking. Since Jackson hasn’t been able to consistently keep his pads low, it has hurt him at times when run blocking, when he isn’t able to generate enough leverage to keep his blocks. While this wouldn’t hurt Jackson’s ability tremendously in a zone blocking scheme, it could leave him as more of a liability in more traditional sets.
Even with some of his weaknesses, Jackson should be in high demand early on the third day of the NFL Draft. How he was able to perform at Rutgers speaks to the character of the young man, as he worked himself into an attractive offensive lineman for NFL teams despite the struggles of the rest of the team around him. By the time his career really gets going, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jackson have a career like former Buckeye Andrew Norwell, who is now considered one of the better guards in the NFL. The difference is, Jackson will have a bit of a head start since he’s primed to hear his named called in this year’s NFL Draft, while Norwell was an undrafted free agent coming out of Ohio State.