For two years, Clemson tackle Jackson Carman has protected one of the most prized 2021 NFL Draft prospects in Trevor Lawrence. But does Carman have the tools to set off for the NFL Draft himself? Carman has been a longtime starter on the blindside, but as you’ll see, his specific skill set makes his NFL projection a bit more complicated.
Jackson Carman NFL Draft Profile
Weight: 335 pounds
Position: Offensive Tackle
Current Year: Junior
By 2018, Clemson was well-known as one of college football’s blue-bloods. Not long prior, they’d won their first National Championship since 1981 behind Deshaun Watson’s efforts. Now, the Tigers had another highly-rated quarterback coming in by the name of Trevor Lawrence. They needed protection for him, too.
Jackson Carman seemed like a good place to start in the search for security. Carman was the second-ranked offensive tackle prospect in the 2018 recruiting class and a borderline five-star prospect across the board. Carman had offers from schools like Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, and Notre Dame. But in the end, the Fairfield, Ohio product chose to make his way toward the eastern seaboard, where he’d suit up for Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers.
Jackson Carman’s career as a Clemson tackle
Right out of the gates, the Clemson Tigers valued Carman as a reserve tackle. As a true freshman, he saw playing time in thirteen games and logged over 200 total snaps in rotational action. When four-year starter Mitch Hyatt left in 2019, Carman slid into his spot at left tackle and immediately made his presence known.
In 2019, Carman started all 15 games, assisting the Clemson offense in its production. The Clemson offensive tackle routinely helped the Tigers put up massive numbers. In the CFB Playoff Semifinal game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Carman helped neutralize Chase Young, the eventual No. 2 overall pick.
Carman’s 2020 collegiate season
Carman returned to school for his true junior season, maintaining his role as the starting left tackle. Again, he provided his trademark steadiness. The Tigers again made it to the playoffs, and although they lost in the first round, Carman did a good job containing Jonathon Cooper and Tyreke Smith.
For his efforts, Carman was named a second-team All-American, as well as a second-team All-ACC selection. On January 7, 2021, he announced his decision to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.
Analyzing Jackson Carman’s NFL Draft profile
Jackson Carman had one of the most important roles in college football for the past two seasons — protecting Trevor Lawrence’s blindside. And for the most part, he performed quite well. Carman has long been lauded as one of the top tackles in the nation, but how does he measure out as an NFL Draft prospect?
For starters, Carman is big. He stands at 6-foot-5, 335 pounds. His lower body is thick and dense, and his upper body is also fairly sturdy as well. Carman doesn’t have the best functional length, but he makes up for it with impressive play strength and power in his strikes. He also shows flashes of good mobility as a run blocker, which is where he makes his money.
Carman’s run blocking is superb. Carman has a hard-nosed style, and he’s very good at carrying out his assignments with initial urgency. The Clemson tackle has enough quickness off the line to get to the second level and exert his power on secondary defenders. Although his speed peters out at the second level, he has the ability to open lanes and get the running backs into space.
Carman also has the finisher’s mentality to put players into the ground on occasion. All this comes from his above-average straight-line athleticism, power, and leverage as a blocker.
Jackson Carman as a pass blocker
Carman is less consistent as a pass blocker. This is where his limitations start to show. Of course, he’s fairly solid here, too. Carman again has a strong anchor. Once he grips the pads and establishes an anchor, he can be hard to shake. He also has enough torso flexibility to bend and flex as rushers try to break free. This allows him to absorb the strain and maintain his anchor.
Although Carman has many redeeming qualities, there are some concerns.
As good as Carman’s anchor can be, he doesn’t quite have the all-encompassing length to maintain it against more rangy defensive ends. Additionally, his mobility around the pocket is only average to above-average. He gets the job done more often than not, but his motion is a bit choppy when matching the rusher back. He also sometimes lacks the recovery athleticism necessary to bounce back when beat initially.
What’s the verdict on Jackson Carman?
Jackson Carman is a good player. He’s a decent athlete with strong hands and extra utility as a run blocker. However, his limitations do raise some questions about his NFL projection. Although he has good hands, power, and leverage in pass protection, he may have trouble against rushers who can get him off-balance quickly with their explosiveness.
For this reason, it has been postulated that Carman could make the switch to guard at the next level. He has the power, road-grader play style, and the helping mentality required to be a good player there. He has a serviceable baseline of athleticism, regardless, and his lack of elite length might also be mitigated there.
Ultimately, however, Carman has the potential to be a solid starter at either spot. The discussion of where to place him revolves more around maximizing his potential.
Jackson Carman’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Part of Jackson Carman’s fit depends on what position teams envision him playing. I think he’s a solid Day 2 pick as an offensive tackle, but he may have additional upside at guard. Working on the interior would not only alleviate some of his concerns but also accentuate some of his strengths. He may be more highly-rated as a guard by some teams, which could impact his stock. However, he ultimately has the tools to be successful at both spots.
You may be looking for me to tell you which spot Carman is better at, but that’s not my place right now. Carman hasn’t even played at guard in college, so the talk of kicking him inside is more about projection.
Ideally, he would play well there, and he has the traits to suggest that he could. But there’s more nuance to the transition than that, and we won’t actually know until we see him there. I’d be excited to play him at guard, but for now, his utility there is still an unknown.
Which teams mesh best with Carman’s projection?
Regardless, Carman’s projected versatility is a plus, especially in a league where several teams need more security at multiple spots on the line. For teams that have multiple needs at tackle and guard, Carman is an excellent pick on Day 2. He can file in and play at tackle with his experience, but he also has the skill set to thrive at guard with the right guidance.
Teams like the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cincinnati Bengals could be good landing spots for the Clemson tackle, in this sense. However, there should be suitors beyond that.
Carman has appeal, given his multifaceted outlook. Teams could reasonably see him as a starting tackle, given his decent athleticism, solid power, and hand usage. However, by the same virtue, teams may see a starting guard, given his lack of dominant length and smooth mobility in space. Whatever the case, Carman should have a future on the field at the NFL level, and he adds another dimension to an intriguing 2021 offensive line class.
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