I believe honesty is important in this business. So, I’ll level with you all to begin this article. The Miami Dolphins selecting Austin Jackson at pick 18 was my nightmare scenario for the Dolphins’ draft. As someone who covers the draft all-year-round, I knew it was a possibility given Miami’s desperate need for tackle and the likelihood the top four tackles would be off the board by pick 18. Although I was prepared for the possibility, it didn’t make me feel any better when the pick was announced. 

When I watched Jackson during the predraft process I gave him a third-round grade and ranked him 92nd overall in the draft class. He was my OT8 as well. Now with all of that said, I made it a priority to set my previous evaluations aside and take another objective look at Jackson.  

Jackson’s game is inconsistent on a down to down basis, so I tried to find one good clip and one bad clip of him handling a certain pass rush move or player. This way things are balanced out even more. 

Okay, let’s see if Austin Jackson changed my mind the second time as we breakdown some of his strengths and weaknesses. 

Jackson vs the Spin Move 



Our first clip comes in a game against Stanford University in some classic “Pac-12 After Dark” action. Jackson is lined up at LT and is faced with a spin move from the defensive end lined up at the five-tech. 

Jackson shows off one of his best skills on this rep: his quickness. He recognized the spin pretty quickly and was agile enough to slide his feet and shut the play down. This is where a lot of the appeal from Jackson’s game comes from. For someone as big as he is, his feet are not heavy at all. When people are talking about his athletic upside, they are probably referencing plays like the one you see above. 

At the end of the play, Jackson keeps driving the defender and ends up putting him on the ground. This might be the only play in the games I watched where he put someone on the ground. He’s not much of an imposing presence, but he does like to jaw after the whistle.


Since that was the “good” play now we have the “bad” play. There really isn’t a ton of analysis I can offer on this play. Jackson just gets straight-up beat by Utah EDGE rusher Bradlee Anae. Anae took two super quick steps outside making Jackson fire outside. This left Jackson open to an inside counter move and that is exactly what Anae did. 

This was probably one of the cleanest pass rush wins I saw throughout my study of over 200 players this draft cycle. 

When I say Jackson is inconsistent on a down to down basis this is what I mean. There are reps of him flexing his athletic prowess and then reps where he gets left in the dust. In his defense, Anae was one of the better pass rushers in the PAC-12 this past season was drafted in the fifth round (he should have gone a little higher). However, Jackson was a first-round pick so watching him get put in the spin cycle by a fifth-rounder doesn’t inspire me with confidence. 

Jackson vs the Club/Swipe Move


I am far from an offensive line guru and there is a ton I still have to learn about scouting the position. Although, there are a lot of things that are pretty easy to pick up once you know what to look for. One of those things is hand placement/hand strength. 

On this rep, Anae tries to hit Jackson’s hand down on initial contact with a club move. The idea is to swat the hands away and then dip your shoulder and get to the QB. It’s what we call creating a “soft angle” in the scouting community. 

Jackson did a good job getting his hands inside on this play, specifically his left hand, which made it much more difficult for Anae to swat his hands away. Jackson also did a nice job getting to his spot with his kick slide and meeting Anae quite far from the QB. All around he did a solid job on this play. 


This rep comes from later in his matchup with Bradlee Anae and it didn’t go quite as well this time. First, notice which player establishes their hands in the other’s chest. This time its Anae who establishes good positioning on initial contact. 

Once Anae has his arm inside of Jackson’s chest plate he uses his other arm to swipe/chop Jackson’s hands away giving him an easy angle to the QB. There are a lot of reps like this on Jackson’s film where his hands get swiped away too easily. I thought he really struggled to stay attached to blocks and ended up on the ground way too much. 

Improving his hand placement and grip strength would be one of the first things I would look at improving if I was on the Dolphins coaching staff. This way he could better handle counters and stay attached to blocks for much longer. 

Jackson vs A.J Epenesa


A lot of draft analysts will point to Jackson’s game against A.J. Epenesa as to why he shouldn’t have been a first-round pick. In a bubble, I would actually agree with them, but I also understand sometimes players have bad games. Also, it’s not like Jackson lost every single rep to Epenesa. 

For instance, on the play above Jackson actually does a good job carrying Epenesa all the way around the pocket. He’s got light feet and it is really obvious on this rep. Watch how he just slides with Epenesa and keeps him outside the pocket. He doesn’t click his heals or takes any heavy looking steps. Just nice and smooth. 

He was even able to do a good job with his hands on this play too. Epenesa went for a similar move that Anae went for in the last clip I showed you. This time Jackson kept his hands back which forced Epenesa to swat air. Jackson then took advantage of his athleticism and just walled Epenesa off. 


The rep above may not look too bad at first glance but it highlights a couple of my biggest problems in Jackson’s game. I could have picked much worse reps to show but this one gets my point across enough. 

Just watch how easily Epenesa swats away Jackson’s hands and in the process basically just tosses aside Jackson himself. If the RB isn’t sitting there in pass pro on this play its a huge sack or a loud QB hit because Jackson was taken out of the play on first contact. 

This shows up so often in his film. Players just seem to push/swipe him aside way too often for my liking. Honestly, I’m surprised Miami liked him given all of the other offensive linemen they drafted were maulers. 

I’m aware he had the bone marrow transplant which may have affected his strength this season. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t speak to those claims. I’m hoping they are true though because otherwise, I don’t think he’s strong enough to play in year one. 

Jackson vs Power Moves


I have to make an exception for this category and show the bad play first because you need to have something to compare the good play to. Again, I am not sure how much I can say about this play. 

Jackson just gets absolutely flattened on this play by the Stanford DE. He failed to get set and drop his hips to set up an anchor so he could absorb the power rush. Instead, he just gets pile driven into the ground. I checked a couple of times and from what I can tell he did not trip. 

It doesn’t always happen this bad, but he does struggle to deal with power on film and rarely deals out any powerful blows of his own. Jackson needs to add some mass to his frame or add some muscle to his frame because he might not hold up. 


Now for the good play, as this time Jackson is faced with the same move, and he is able to hold his ground. You can see the defensive end’s hands shock Jackson’s upper body, but his lower body doesn’t give any ground.  

Jackson can handle power when he gets himself square and drops his weight a little bit giving himself an anchor. The theme of this article has been inconsistency and this is no different. Jackson can do everything, but he struggles to put it all together for long stretches of time. 


I’ve been hard on Jackson, but I want to make things clear. I will be cheering my head off for Jackson every single Sunday. I want him to succeed and become the franchise left tackle the Miami Dolphins desperately need. 

However, I am an analyst which requires me to point out the flaws I see. Jackson has a ton of flaws in his game that should be legitimately concerning. Thankfully, he’s only 20 years old and has a ton of athletic upside. He’s got all of the length and quickness you could ask for at the position. 

At the end of the day, it comes down to the Dolphins coaching staff to develop Jackson and pull the “good reps” out of him on almost every play. He seems like a standup kid off the field which makes me root for him even more. 

On the field though, I am skeptical of if he can reach his ceiling quickly enough to lock down a spot on the Dolphins line in the long term.