Clayton Valley High School
Jalen McKenzie University of Southern California Trojans
McKenzie was a different player in the second half of 2021 and has played his way into a chance to earn an NFL paycheck with a good NFLPA bowl week.
Jalen McKenzie loves to finish plays. McKenzie has that mean streak to take defenders fully out of the play with no chance to get back in it when he wins. He is by definition a brawler. He improved greatly in his pass sets over the course of 2021, much better footwork keeping defenders arced around the pocket. McKenzie has a great frame at 6050 320. Looks the part of an NFL right tackle with the size to play inside. McKenzie consistently has a quick get-off of the snap. He handles spin moves really well, spin attempts often end up with the rusher in the dirt. McKenzie keeps his pads low, especially in pass pro. His thick lower half with good balance allows for a solid anchor in pass pro.
McKenzie has shown massive strides over his last 400 snaps, but took him over 1,600 snaps to start showing it and had lost his job in fall camps. He displays slow and heavy feet. McKenzie could be better suited to slide inside to guard than playing on an island. He has below-average athleticism for the league. His punch power is lower than you’d expect for his size and he needs to learn to roll his hips. McKenzie is a gap-specific blocker, doesn’t have the foot speed or climbing ability to thrive in zone. He really improved in the second half of the year, but in early 2021 and all of 2020, hands were slow to come up, which could be a major issue if it shows up again. Outside speed rushers gave him big issues early in the year.
Watching early-season McKenzie come off of the bench, I didn’t expect to give him a draftable grade or for him to come out this year, but since taking the right tackle job in the Notre Dame game McKenzie has made massive strides as a player. His hands are quicker, depth and footwork in pass sets have improved and he’s always been a brawler in the pit. McKenzie doesn’t quite have the physical tools to be an early-round tackle, but if a team buys into the second half of this season, McKenzie showed enough on tape to get on an NFL roster.
Jalen McKenzie earned his bachelor’s degree in international relations from USC in the spring of 2021 and now is working on a master’s in non-governmental organizations and social change. His father, Reggie McKenzie, was a linebacker at Tennessee (1981-84) and then played in the NFL with the Los Angeles Raiders (1985-88), Phoenix Cardinals (1989-90) and San Francisco 49ers (1992) and in the World League of American Football with the Montreal Machine (1992), then was an assistant coach at Tennessee in 1993, worked in the Green Bay Packers’ front office from 1994 to 2011, was the general manager of the Oakland Raiders (2012-18) and now is a senior personnel executive with the Miami Dolphins. His brother, Kahlil, was a defensive lineman at Tennessee (2015-17) who played offensive line with the Kansas City Chiefs (2018) and Seattle Seahawks (2019) and the XFL’s Los Angeles Wildcats (2020) and now is with the Cincinnati Bengals. His uncle, Raleigh McKenzie (Reggie’s twin brother), was a center at Tennessee (1981-84) and then played in the NFL with the Washington Redskins (1985-94, where he won 2 Super Bowls), Philadelphia Eagles (1995-96), San Diego Chargers (1997-98) and Green Bay Packers (1999-2000), and then was a scout with the Oakland Raiders.
In High School, he sat out his 2015 season with a knee injury. He made 2016 Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, PrepStar All-West Region, USA Today All-California second team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team, MaxPreps All-NorCal second team, San Jose Mercury News All-Bay Area first team and San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro second team as a senior offensive and defensive lineman at Clayton Valley High in Concord (Calif.). Bishop O’Dowd won the 2016 state Class 5-AA title.
In 2017, McKenzie redshirted as a backup first-year offensive tackle at USC in 2017. He enrolled at USC in the fall of 2017 and was awarded a scholarship at USC by virtue of an NCAA rule known as “blueshirting” (it allows a non-recruited student-athlete to receive athletic financial aid after beginning practice and have that student-athlete count towards the next year’s signing class if the school has reached its NCAA-maximum aid limit for the current year). In 2018, McKenzie appeared in all 12 games at offensive tackle and on special teams as a redshirt freshman in 2018, even starting twice (California, UCLA). In 2019, McKenzie started all of his 2019 sophomore season, 11 games at right offensive guard and twice (Colorado, Iowa) at right offensive tackle. He made a tackle against Oregon and returned a short kickoff for 4 yards at California. In 2020, McKenzie started for his second season on the offensive line, this time at right tackle, as a junior in 2020. He started all 6 games in 2020. He was also available to play guard. He was named to 2020 All-Pac-12 honorable mention and Phil Steele All-Pac-12 third team. The veteran McKenzie returned for his third season starting on the offensive line as a senior in 2021.
Current Player Value/Potential Player Value
1/26 - Showing the quickest feet of his group, McKenzie did a good job holding down the right side of the line in pass protection. His bend is great and he is agile moving side to side, allowing him to shut down counter moves. Another impressive part of his game is the ability to recover and be patient with his punch.
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