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Grading the Detroit Lions’ third-round selection of Jonah Jackson

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Detroit may have just put the finishing touches on the right side of their offensive line.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff Semifinal-Ohio State vs Clemson Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions filled what many believed to be their biggest need heading into the 2020 NFL Draft with their third-round selection of Ohio State guard Jonah Jackson. While Jackson wasn’t necessarily a top guard prospect by some, the Lions certainly showed they coveted the former Buckeye by trading up 10 spots in the third round to grab him.

Was it the right move? Will the Lions forget all about letting Graham Glasgow hit free agency after selecting Jackson? Is he a starter from the jump?

Let’s break down Detroit’s newest offensive guard.

Need

Prior to the start of the NFL Draft, I listed guard as the Lions’ top need. With Glasgow gone and Joe Dahl manning the other guard spot, Detroit could use an upgrade at both positions. And while Halapoulivaati Vaitai could have theoretically slid inside, the former Eagles tackle was always better suited on the outside. Getting Jackson should be a big improvement over Kenny Wiggins and he allows Vaitai to stay where he’s most valuable.

Trade value

Here’s a look at the terms of the trade:

Lions get:

  • 75th overall (3rd round)
  • 197th overall (6th round)

Colts get:

  • 85th overall (3rd round)
  • 149th overall (5th round)
  • 182nd overall (6th round)

In the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, the Lions come out as slight winners (228-216). It’s more in the Colts’ favor when using Rich Hill’s chart (66.7-68.1).

Overall, I think it’s fair to call this swap of picks somewhat even. Seth Walder of ESPN said according to his AV-based draft chart the Colts “gained a 5th-round pick’s worth of surplus value in the trade.”

I don’t quite see it that way, and I view it as a perfectly acceptable trade.

Talent

Jackson didn’t skip a beat when he went from a full-time starter at Rutgers to the big show at Ohio State his graduate year. His play isn’t flashy or dominating, but he’s a scrappy player that gets by with decent size, somewhat refined technique, and a never-quit mentality.

Given his power limitations and average athleticism, his ceiling is probably capped to be an average-to-above-average player. You could argue the Lions could have gotten as much talent out of Lloyd Cushenberry or Matt Hennessy—both of whom went shortly after—but I can see the appeal of Jackson specifically for Detroit.

Character

This is where I came away most impressed with Jonah Jackson, and so did the Lions coaching staff as they worked with him at the Senior Bowl.

“Jonah was a graduate transfer that played at Rutgers at a very high level and then wanted to go play against the best,” Quinn said. “That kind of told me something. We talked to this kid, ‘Why did you want to play another year?’ He could have come out last year. He wanted to play against the best competition. So, that says something.”

Overall

The need was there, the trade was relatively even, and while I think Jackson is unlikely to become a perennial All-Pro lineman, I do think his ceiling is a reliable contributor and potential leader on this offensive line. Grade: B

Poll

Grade the Lions’ third-round selection of Jonah Jackson

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    A
    (241 votes)
  • 53%
    B
    (417 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (100 votes)
  • 1%
    D
    (13 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (9 votes)
780 votes total Vote Now