Darrell Williams (Rams UDFA 2015, South Florida)
I don't think former Iowa left tackle, Alaric Jackson, adds much to the OL room for the Rams. My NFL comp for him is Williams, who was with the Rams from 2015 to 2017. There was a different tackle who also was named Darrell Williams, who went to Western Kentucky and was on the Rams PS in 2018. The player I'm talking about played at USF and started the final regular season game in 2017 against the Niners when the Rams rested their starters for the playoffs. After he was with the Rams, Williams was briefly in the CFL, then he retired from football.
Prior to the 2019 season, some way too early mock drafts projected Jackson to be a 1st round pick in the 2020 NFL draft. After an injury plagued 2019 and an uneven 2020, Jackson went from being a potential 1st round pick to not getting drafted at all. I don't think this was unfair. In my opinion, Tremayne Anchrum was a better prospect coming out of Clemson and Anchrum was picked near the very end of the 7th round. Lance Zierlein also graded Anchrum slightly higher last year compared to Jackson, and only had Anchrum with a 6th to 7th round projection.
A player with similar measurements who I think was a much better draft prospect than Jackson is Halapoulivaati Vaitai, a 5th round pick in 2016 by the Eagles out of TCU. He's now with the Lions.
At the Senior Bowl, Jackson played almost exclusively guard and right tackle. Most draft experts say he has to slide inside to guard in the NFL and won't be able to play LT except as a swing backup. The Rams already have a ton of former college tackles to fill that "guard to right tackle" role, including Edwards, Evans, Anchrum, Demby, and Brewer. Long term, maybe Jackson could replace one of those players in a backup role. Short term, I consider Jackson to be redundant and just depth.
Name pronounced "AH-lair-ick". Turns 23 years old in July. From the Detroit area. Born in Windsor, Canada, which is just across the border from Detroit, part of the same metropolitan area. He went to school in Windsor until 8th grade, then went to high school in Detroit. He played some youth football, but was primarily a basketball player and didn't play football in high school until his junior season. His mom initially didn't like the idea of him playing football, concerned that he would get hurt. He played both offensive line (right tackle) and defensive line (setting the school record for sacks). He was described as being 6'7'' and 285 pounds as a senior.
Originally a pre-med major (sports medicine), interested in being an athletic trainer, then later switched to a business major (enterprise leadership for business). Selected in the CFL draft by the BC Lions.
Redshirted in 2016. Made 12 starts at LT in 2017 and 12 starts at LT in 2018.
In the first game of the 2019 season, he injured his right knee (sprain, bone bruise) and continued to play, making 10 starts, but missing 3 games during the season due to injury. In 2020, he made 8 starts at LT and was named first team All Big Ten.
Became a vegan for the 2020 season, dropping his weight from 320 pounds down to 305. Stopped being a vegan after the season and added weight back during the draft process.
6'5 5/8'' tall, 318 pounds, 32 1/2'' arms, 83'' wingspan, 9 1/2'' hands (Senior Bowl measurements)
6'5 1/2'' tall, 321 pounds, 32 1/2'' arms, 9 1/2'' hands (Pro Day measurements)
Some sources, including LZ's profile, list Jackson's arm length at 33 7/8'', which is a substantial difference compared to his Senior Bowl measurement. I wasn't able to determine where that figure comes from. On the field, Jackson appears to have pretty good arm length, so I don't know why they measured so short at the Senior Bowl.
Let's assume for discussion that Jackson has just under 34'' arms. Bobby Evans has 34 3/4'' arms, but only an 80 1/2'' wingspan, an odd combination. David Edwards has 33 3/8'' arms and an 80 1/8'' wingspan. Tremayne Anchrum has 33 5/8'' arms and an 80.5'' wingspan. So, Jackson has a large wingspan compared to these other 3 players, but not longer arms.
Darrell Williams: 6'4 3/4'' tall, 301 pounds, 34 5/8'' arms, 84'' wingspan, 10 1/2'' hands.
Jackson: 5.40 sec (40 time, I've seen it reported as 5.20 sec), 1.87 sec (10 yard split, also reported as 1.78 sec), 20 bench reps, 25'' vert, 8'7'' broad, 4.92 sec (shuttle, also given as 4.97 sec), 7.69 sec (3 cone, also 7.70 sec).
Williams: 5.23 sec (40 time, 5.46 sec at pro day), 1.82 sec (10 yard split), 28.5'' vert, 8'7'' broad, 4.99 sec (shuttle), 7.88 sec (3 cone).
There's a good profile about Jackson on Steelers Depot, written by Jonathan Heitritter, who was a graduate assistant with Iowa during the spring of 2019. He says Jackson is best when quick setting, has good size, fairly mobile, has a professional attitude and mild mannered personality, is a below average athlete, lacks lateral movement and change of direction, lacks upper body strength, is already at his ceiling for athletic development, a liability when taking a vertical pass set due to his lack of foot speed and inability to set a deep pocket, inconsistent with the accuracy of his punch, lacks contact balance, falls of of blocks, struggles against edge speed, lacks functional anchor against power rushers. He sees Jackson moving inside to guard in the NFL.
Mel Kiper had a 5th round grade on Jackson. Inconsistent and got beat.
Daniel Jeremiah said 6th round. On ground too much, issues with speed.
Dane Brugler said he was a physical run blocker who could latch and drive. Issues in pass pro with technique and play strength, a Day 3 pick.
Tony Pauline suggested that the Rams would be a good fit for Jackson as a guard, in the 5th to 7th round area. TP said Jackson was quick to the 2nd level, versatile, has good initial knee bend, has an exciting combination of grip strength and leg drive as run blocker, exceptional awareness, lacks balance, isn't nasty, bends at the waist, needs to improve strength of base and overall play strength, has average wingspan for a LT and likely needs to move to guard to be an NFL starter, otherwise would be just depth as a tackle.
Lance Zierlein says Jackson is quick out of his stance, climbs smoothly and quickly, is well taught on making diagonal outside zone run blocks, panics against edge speed, has problems anchoring, his footwork is a mess, below average contact balance, poor upper body strength, doesn't finish blocks.
LZ gave Jackson a 5.87 draft grade and a 6th round projection. Higher grade than Dan Moore Jr. (late 4th round) and not far below the grades for Robert Hainsey (late 3rd round), Landon Young (6th round) and Larnel Coleman (7th round). LZ gave Andrew Donnal, who the Rams drafted in the 4th round in 2015 out of Iowa, a higher draft grade than Jackson. Donnal was expected to be a late round pick in that draft and the Rams took him surprisingly early.
ESPN 215th overall (listed as a guard), late 6th round. Best in a phone booth, adequate length, tightness trying to mirror edge rushers.
Sports Illustrated, 12th left tackle, (6th round). Ranked higher than Jaylon Moore from Western Michigan, who was a 5th round pick and Josh Ball from Marshall, who was a compensatory 4th round selection. The 11th ranked LT was Cole Van Lanen from Wisconsin, who was a late 6th round pick.
Sports Illustrated said that Jackson performed poorly at the Senior Bowl, with inaccurate punches on pass blocks, too high of a pad level and a poor anchor. Despite his shaky week, SI said they still expected him to get drafted as a swing backup at G and T. Jackson did not play in the Senior Bowl game, only participating in the practices. Jackson had some bad reps both during 1 vs 1 and in team session drills. A Draft Wire expert had a more positive take, saying Jackson showed good power on run blocks and held up as a pass blocker against power, looking better at guard than at tackle. He said that coming out of the Senior Bowl, Jackson would be good value as a 5th or 6th round pick.
PFF 238th overall (7th round)
TDN 369th overall (UDFA)
PFN 250th overall (late 7th round)
NFL size. Gets in way just by being large body, forcing defenders to run around him even if he's in trouble. Uses his length to recover, pushing the defender and saving the block. Good size for guard position. Has frame to play both G and T positions.
Quick out of his stance moving forward, with lower body leg drive on run blocks. Able to keep feet moving to flow laterally on outside zone run plays. Can drive defenders wide or backwards on zone run blocks when he gets under their pads.
Good job moving his feet in pass protection to try to maintain balance, not letting them stop.
Slow on screens, but adequate range to be effective and get out in front of the RB.
Good power on some run blocks. Drove DT 7 yards off of LOS on combo block. Buried DE into the ground. Buried sitting duck LB. Exploded into DT on double team block. Body mass to generate movement on double team blocks. When he unlocks his arms into blocks, shoves defenders with some power.
Decent ability to anchor in pass pro if he can get his feet wide, bend his knees and establish base.
4 year starter in college. Iowa is a good school for producing NFL linemen.
Some of his pass blocking reps are a complete horror show. Absolutely obliterated by pass rushers at times. Has slow hands. His footwork is terrible. Feet get super narrow and close together. He doesn't gain depth in a vertical set properly, frequently forcing him to cross over, with his right foot sometimes going in front of his left foot and other times crossing over behind his left foot. Overset and went flying by trying to protect outside shoulder, beaten cleanly inside by the DE who slammed into the QB's chest. Stressed by edge speed, struggles to mirror. Smoked by inside counter move. Poor ability to anchor when he can't get his feet set, gets run over and driven back into the QB. Feet sometimes turn into roller skates. Speed to power move strikes him in the chest and when LT tries to step backwards to anchor he falls down and faceplants. Another time his legs buckle as if he got hit in the knees with a baseball bat. DE slaps down his inside arm, beats him cleanly and smashes into the QB.
Pad level can be high, robbing him of functional strength and leverage. Too reliant on size and body mass over proper technique to drive defenders on run blocks. Doesn't have good hip snap into run blocks. Play strength doesn't match his size due to athletic limitations and flaws in technique. Blocked down on DT on short yardage run on 3rd down and DT grabs him and throws him off to the side, shedding block. Shed by LB on short pull around TE. No power on skip pull. Got stood up on pull block.
Lacks quickness in both hands and feet at LOS. A big, clumsy oaf. Feet not fast enough to match the speed of the play. Tries to burst out of stance on running play, but the DE rips under him and sheds him easily. DE throws him off and sheds quickly on outside zone run. Faceplants on short yardage run. Thrown to ground on outside zone run. Repeatedly gets creased at line on backside of zone runs, unable to get to reach blocks. Whiffed against swim move. Slow hands, ineffective puncher. Knocked off balance and on heels by initial jousts. Loses hand fights.
Gets surprised by twists and other times even if his eyes see it he doesn't have athleticism and play strength to respond and stop it. Overpowered by DTs on twists. Not quick enough to seal inside gap against twist.
Average athlete climbing to 2nd level. Whiffs against safety. Below average body control at 2nd level, causing him to miss blocks. Becomes traffic cone in space when he can't move quickly enough to cut off defenders. Not quick enough to cut off CB on screen pass. Whiffed on LB on combo block, causing TFL. Limited range when forced to change directions, struggles to mirror on both run and pass blocks to adjust to moving defenders.
Made mental mistake, doesn't block the DE on a run, causing TFL. Pin and pull toss and he lacked awareness that OLB beat the TE block, just runs by the OLB, allowing the OLB to stuff the RB.
Doesn't finish blocks, lacks aggressiveness. Gets beaten after initial engagement, not able to consistently sustain blocks. On screen pass, just stood and watched instead of turning around and blocking defenders pursuing from behind.
I'm not expecting more from Alaric Jackson than just being a low cost backup. He has a better chance of making it as a guard. Unless someone gets hurt during the preseason, Jackson could be looking at a practice squad spot for this season.