Detroit Lions: Rookie Jonah Jackson excelling as a pass-blocker

Jonah Jackson may prove to be Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn’s best draft pick of 2020.

It sounds insane when you understand that the Detroit Lions owned the third pick in the 2020 NFL Draft that a player selected in the third round may prove to be the teams’ top choice in the draft class–for now.

Some players will surely go on to have more success, but it looks like Jonah Jackson is off and running as a staple among the Detroit Lions starting offensive line.  Many thought Logan Stenberg, who was selected a round after Jackson, would win the job.  He’s yet to see a single snap in 2020.

Now we must understand that corner Jeff Okudah who the Detroit Lions selected with that third overall pick, is starting to trend in the right direction. Still, he’s certainly had a slow start to his professional career.

Okudah has graded out as the league’s worst cornerback (114 of 114) through his first three NFL games, and veteran Desmond Trufant is only a couple of slots better but does not overlook the Detroit Lions lack of pass-rush once again.

When a defense fails to generate a steady pass-rush, it puts a load of stress on the secondary.  I don’t care if Deion Sanders is in the lineup; he won’t be able to cover an NFL WR1 straight man-to-man for upwards of five seconds per play.  That is exactly what Matt Patricia’s defense is asking their two outside corners to do each snap.

Players such as D’Andre Swift, Julian Okwara, and Okudah will certainly excel once they get their feet planted as professionals. Still, right now, it’s Okudah’s college teammate excelling in his role.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Jackson has earned a solid 71.5 pass-blocking grade but struggles in the run blocking area, only compiling a 63 mark.  Jackson started the year at the right guard position, but after the Joe Dahl injury, he flipped over to the left side, allowing Halapoulivaati Vaitai to move from tackle to right guard.

Over his first four starts, Jackson has allowed two sacks and just six total pressures.  That isn’t bad considering he’s a rookie.  In comparison, the high priced, prized free-agent signing Vaitai has yielded three sacks and four pressures in just two starts playing the same position.

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Jackson is well on his way to being a very reliable third-round selection by Quinn and company, one that will perform for years to come.