USC OT Austin Jackson projected as Top 10 pick in mock draft

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC left tackle Austin Jackson is being projected as a first round pick in a handful of mock drafts, but a new one from Fox Sports rates him even higher.

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Will USC left tackle Austin Jackson leave the Trojans as an early entrant to the 2020 NFL Draft?

Evaluations from pro scouts have already been sent out, and there’s no way of knowing exactly what their feedback for the junior lineman will include, but mock drafts can give us some hints. And they’re not necessarily good news for USC’s chances of keeping Jackson around.

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On Monday, Jason McIntyre of Fox Sports released his first mock draft for 2020 and it includes an Top 10 selection for the Trojan.

Here’s what McIntyre had to say about Jackson:

"9. New York Jets — Austin Jackson, OT, USC A recent three-game win streak pulled the Jets out of the Top 5, but they’ll certainly be targeting an offensive lineman at the top (and later, too). Sam Darnold’s rookie contract clock is ticking. Jackson gained 55 pounds since arriving at USC, and has made massive strides to remain quick and agile at 6-foot-6, 310 pounds."

Walter Cherepinsky of Walter Football also sees Jackson in that spot. His updated mock draft features Jackson at No. 9, crediting the lineman with “quick feet and superb agility.”

McIntyre and Cheripinsky might be the highest on Jackson, but they aren’t the only ones projecting him as a first round pick.

Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports updated his mock draft on Tuesday and now has Jackson climbing to No. 11 into the lap of the Denver Broncos thanks to his “prototypical size for an NFL left tackle” with the ability to move “like someone 100 pounds lighter.”

Chris Trapasso also of CBS Sports slotted Jackson in with the San Francisco 49ers at No. 30 noting he “may need a year to get NFL strong, but he certainly has early-pick athleticism.”

That’s not to say everyone is sold on Jackson’s first round potential. He is missing from Pro Football Focus’ first round mock as well as NBCSN’s Mock Draft 7.0.

There is still time for Jackson to lift his profile as a prospect for the draft of course. And there’s good reason to believe he will climb that ladder.

Trapasso named Jackson as one of “Six prospects who have the best chance to improve draft stock in bowl matchups.”

Why? Because Jackson will be going up against Iowa’s A.J. Espenesa, a potential first rounder himself.

“Because of his noticeable athletic gifts and length, Jackson is a hot name in the scouting community right now as someone primed to ascend boards during the pre-draft process,” Trapasso explained. “He can get a huge jump on doing so by ‘winning’ his matchup against Epenesa, which essentially means not letting the junior with nine sacks, 12 tackles for loss and three fumbles on the season wreck the game.”

Jackson’s decision will be coming down the line, and until he makes it there’s still a chance he could come back. But USC should probably start preparing for life without their starting left tackle.

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