It's a good year to be in the market for a young, talented offensive tackle, and the Browns find themselves among the slew of teams that fit that bill entering the 2020 NFL Combine.
As many as five tackle prospects have been pegged to fall in the top 15 in this year's draft, and some believe three could be already off the board by the time Cleveland picks at No. 10.
Still, there promises to be options, and NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah recently broke down that position group with the Browns in mind on a teleconference with reporters. While there are a number of talented players who could thrive in Cleveland, Jeremiah sees USC's Austin Jackson as one of the best possible fits for what the Browns want to accomplish under new head coach Kevin Stefanski.
"He's somebody that as you go through the Combine, I think he's going to test really well and I think you're going to start hearing his name mentioned in that top 15-type mix," Jeremiah said. "If you want somebody to fit that offense, I don't know that anybody fits it better than him. He's only 20 years old. He's got great knee bend. He can really move laterally. He's going to get better."
Jackson, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound Phoenix native, was a two-year starter at left tackle at USC, where his grandfather, Melvin, won a 1974 national championship. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compares Jackson to Arizona's D.J. Humphries, who struggled initially but had a strong 2019 season and, just last week, signed a lucrative contract extension. He calls Jackson "raw but gifted."
"He's scheme-diverse with potential guard flexibility if he improves his strength," Zierlein writes. "He could become an early starter but may offer a wider split between floor and ceiling than some teams might like."
Jackson made headlines before his junior season when he donated his bone marrow to his ailing sister, Autumn, who suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anemia. The procedure prevented Jackson from participating in much of USC's offseason workouts and limited him in a number of aspects throughout his final season.
Jeremiah believes Jackson's stock will ascend now that he's more than seven months removed from the procedure.
"Obviously speaks to the kind of brother he is and his character," Jeremiah said. "But the loss of that offseason, he just needs to get physically stronger, but as a 20-year-old with that type of athletic ability, the upside is really endless. And I think he's somebody that maybe people are sleeping on a little bit at this point in time.
"I have a feeling once we come out of the Combine, Austin Jackson will be a name that Cleveland Browns will keep an eye on."