Mock Check: A Long-Term Solution at Right Tackle
Sports Illustrated staff writer Conor Orr expects the Tennessee Titans to tackle an opening on the offensive line with their first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Orr released his latest mock draft Tuesday morning and projected USC tackle Austin Jackson to Tennessee with the No. 29 overall pick. He sees the 6-foot-6, 310-pounder as the long-term answer at right tackle but not an immediate replacement for free agent departure Jack Conklin.
Jackson started the final 27 games of his career at left tackle and played with an aggressiveness that is sure to catch the attention of any scout.
That intensity occasionally causes a breakdown in technique, but he has above average athleticism that allows him to remain engaged. Plus, his movement skills project well within the zone rushing scheme the Titans prefer.
When the Titans drafted Conklin, a left tackle in college, eighth overall in 2016, he was their Week 1 starter at right tackle and held that job for four years. The decision to re-sign Dennis Kelly means they don’t have to try to recreate that scenario if they did select Jackson. Instead, they could allow him as much time as needed to make the transition to the right side and to learn the particulars of the offense.
Jackson has a grandfather and an uncle who also played at USC, but the family connection that has garnered the most interest is the connection he has with his sister, who is two years younger and has rare condition that prevents the body from making red blood cells and makes her bones weak. Last summer, Jackson, who was discovered to be a perfect match, donated bone marrow to help his sister fight the disease.
Analysts see as many as seven offensive linemen being selected in the first round of this year’s draft. Five are all but guaranteed to be among the first 32 picks while a guy like Jackson could add to that number.
The Titans certainly need a young tackle. They have not drafted an offensive lineman in the last two years. The question is whether they need to take one in the first round or whether they feel they can wait and not give up much in the way of quality.