The Question: Alaric Jackson?

By Joe Torosian

Alaric Jackson, is he the answer at LT?

The Rams need a top-flight cornerback. It is also clear they need another edge rusher to complement Byron Young.

While I’m always for drafting offensive linemen every year in the First 100, making Alaric Jackson an interesting question.

Currently, he’s a restricted free agent—99.99% he will be back, that’s not the question.

The question is…is he the guy at left tackle? He had a good year, but the Rams wouldn’t have won ten games without him. But is this his ceiling?

Alaric Jackson was an undrafted free agent out of Iowa. That’s the Big 10. That’s where they manufacture offensive linemen on a diet of corn and steel.

Along with Coleman Shelton, Jackson is a credit to the Rams’ scouting and developing abilities. But is Jackson fully developed?

According to the PFF (Pro Football Focus), Alaric Jackson was ranked 43 out of 83 graded tackles in the NFL. This includes both tackle positions.

Generally, your right tackle is a brute, and your left tackle is a little more athletic because they protect the blindside.

There are 32 starting left tackles in the NFL. Jackson, according to PFF, ranks 22 out of 32.

(In contrast, Rob Havenstein ranks 4th out of 32 starting right tackles)

Among all tackles, Jackson is 44 out of 83 in pass protection. Among just left tackles in pass protection, Jackson is 23 out of 32.

In run blocking, Jackson ranked 49 out of 83 overall. Among left tackles in blocking, Jackson ranks 25 out of 32.

We could conclude Jackson wasn’t very good or at least well below average. But the Rams won ten games with him at left tackle. PFF grades are not a hundred percent spot on or infallible, but they give a general sense of where a player is.

Here’s an interesting fact. Of the 21 left tackles graded overall as better than Jackson, he is the only one who weighs less than 300 pounds. Jackson comes in at only 285 on the scale.

In college, Jackson played left tackle at 320 pounds, switched to a vegan diet, and changed his body. He had poor footwork, and there were concerns about his strength.

The word from draft guru Lance Zierlein: “If he can clean up technique and footwork on a full-time basis, he has a chance to become an eventual starter at guard or tackle.”

Jackson turns 26 this summer. So, again, the question begs: Are the Rams good with him, or do they look for something better in the draft?

If it’s the draft, be cautionary. Below is the Rams’ recent history of drafting tackles in the First 100.

The Rams hold the 19th pick in this year’s draft. The last time they had that spot in the first-round was in 2005, when they took Alex Barron out of Florida State.

Bad isn’t even a good enough word to describe how awful Alex Barron was. Forget about the production–blocking and pass protection–let’s just talk about the penalties.

Rob Havenstein has played 9-seasons with the Rams (2/57/2015). He’s been a starter the whole time, and he’s been hit with 35 accepted penalties over 130 games–that’s four penalties per year.

Alex Barron…played five seasons with the Rams…76 games, 74 starts…63 accepted penalties…or 12 times per year…He was traded to Dallas, appeared in eleven games, starting one, and flagged three times, and his career was over.

Starting in the 1990s, the Rams Drafted:
1994: Wayne Gandy, 15th-overall…13-year starter Rams/Steelers/Saints
1997: Orlando Pace 1st…Hall of Fame.

Since then, drafting tackles in the Top 100.

2000: John St. Clair 41st
2005: Alex Barron
2008: John Greco 65th (drafted as a tackle/moved to guard in Cleveland.)
2009: Jason Smith 2nd
2010: Rodger Saffold #33 (Moved to guard)
2014: Greg Robinson #2
2015: Havenstein #57
2015: Jamon Brown #72
2018: Joseph Noteboom #89
2019: Bobby Evans #97

That’s a lousy record, especially if you combine the production of Barron, Jason Smith, and Greg Robinson…three first-round picks in ten seasons, and combined, they didn’t give the Rams what Alaric Jackson gave them in 2023.

That’s why this is a tough call.

Be sure to catch “RamView” Monday, Wednesday, and Friday on YouTube and Spotify. And to follow on Spotify. Follow Joe T. on Twitter/X: @joet13b

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2 Responses to The Question: Alaric Jackson?

  1. caddisfly says:

    I look at two things with AJ:

    First is his trajectory. He appears to have learned a lot through the season, after beating out Noteboom in camp. I doubt that we’ve seen his upside.

    Second, he’s scrappy and determined. He might get out-techniqued or fooled at this stage of his development, but that will diminish in time. But he won’t lose plays for lack of will.

    Will he be another Pace or Whit? Probably not – but I’d settle for another Gandy and AJ might well exceed that expectation.

    Bottom line, pay him and keep him.

    • joetadmin says:

      I agree about paying him…as an RFA he will be back…I like what you said about him being scrappy…because it shows in the things he’s done to make himself an NFL player after going undrafted…I think by the time he’s ready for a serious payday Noteboom will be off the books…I’d like to see him put on a little more weight to help with his run blocking. He’s really an interesting player in terms of the future… Thanks for the click and the comment.

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