When Jackson Carman decided in 2018 that he would attend Clemson University it was big news in his hometown of Fairfield, Ohio. It was not because of the school he was attending but because the school he wasn’t attending, Ohio State University. Urban Meyer was the coach at the time, and Jackson Carman was the #1 rated football prospect in the state of Ohio. Urban Meyer usually (in fact up to that point never) lost out on the top prospect from his state to a school outside of Ohio.
The reasons Jackson Carman decided to attend Clemson were twofold.
1) He is a kid with a well thought out plan to succeed in life. Leaving his state then starting anew in another city was a challenge. He wants to challenge himself. He isn’t a kid who just goes with the flow. There is a plan. He makes his own decisions. He has to live with his choices so he should make them.
2) Clemson was building a winning program, and he wanted to be a player who helped build a winning tradition not part of an old established tradition. Being a link in a chain is fine, but he wanted to be the metal that helped forge the chain.
That type of thinking is what the New York Jets need. With a GM who is trying to build a winning culture plus with a fiery new coach who has enthusiasm and confidence, the Jets need positive trend setters. Building a winning tradition isn’t easy, but it is always done by the players...the right players...not coaches. Whether Jackson Carman can be part of that renaissance is yet to be determined, but a thought process of bringing in talented players with the right attitude has to be part of a revival.
First let’s look at the expertise of Jackson Carman to see if he has the requisite skills to join the Jets’ burgeoning talent base.
Jackson Carman has a listed size of 6’ 5” 335 lbs. He has no official measurements since he didn’t attend the Senior Bowl (He is a junior.) We might not know his accurate size because there is no NFL Combine this year. We must rely on the school’s official measurements which are usually slightly overstated. Since we can use the eye test, we can see that Jackson Carman has enough body mass to be a successful offensive lineman if he has the athleticism to go along with the size. To determine that we must watch some tape.
Carman has played the left tackle position for the Clemson Tigers the past two years. He has protected the blind side of the most sought after college player in the land in Trevor Lawrence. In his last game against Ohio State in which they were behind a vast majority of the time he gave up a single pressure on 49 pass attempts. Ohio State has superior athletes so this was a positive performance.
There is a lot to like about Carman’s game, but depending on the position he is playing he could have some trouble in the NFL. The college game is vastly different to the pro game since in the NFL you are dealing with professionals who have honed their crafts over the years. They have developed skills uniquely tailored to their specific positions to exploit the weaknesses of their opponents.
As of right now we don’t even know what would be the best position in the NFL for Jackson Carman to play but we will try to distinguish it.
Just so you are sure, Jackson Carman is the #79 and plays the left tackle position for the Clemson Tigers. He will be in that position in all these clips. The first clip is looking at linear movement skills. That is how well Carman moves forward if he is out blocking for a screen pass or reaching the 2nd level of the defense to cut off a moving linebacker.
This is sort of a trick play. It is a throw back screen pass that tries to get the defense to run itself out of position. Carman is out in front. He shows decent speed for a player weighing in excess of 330 lbs. He holds off the LOLB at first then is a one man wrecking crew down the sideline. He takes a wicked blast at the safety that is only partially brutal because the safety was diving out of the way to save his body from being trucked.
This shows that Carman would do fine on long pulls to the opposite side of the formation or getting to the second level of the defense. He runs very well, and he doesn’t look labored when doing so. He has a very good muscle dexterity for such a burly player.Plus you can see he is looking to make a block. He is not just window dressing on the play.
This next clip you can see the the maturity in Carman’s blocking. This is a 3rd and 1 play. Watch the Miami defense try to squeeze the play so there are no rush lanes. Every down defensive lineman is slanting inward except the right D-tackle who is stunting to the left. The right defensive end (Carman’s man) is slanting in while the RCB is blitzing off the edge to fill the outside gap.
This is a read option play where the RB should go to his right if he gets the ball. or Trevor Lawrence will go left if he should keep it. This keeps the ILB on the second level from getting a read on where the play is going. The offense needs only a yard so any hesitation by the 2nd level players is a benefit to the offense.
Carman’s job is to kick out the end who is playing outside his left shoulder. Seems easy enough until the DE slants down inside into the hole Carman is trying to create. Thinking quickly Carman just lets the DE flow inside to the hole then forcibly tosses him further inside by actually attacking the opposite side of the DE he was planning to block.
Carman is using the DE’s own momentum against him then gives him an extra little effort to throw him into his own teammate. He isn’t finished yet as he helps pick off an ILB who is trying to flow to the play. By doing so he creates a pathway on the left side of his body instead of the right. The RB who has nowhere to go inside jump cuts back outside (following Lawrence) into the clear and a 1st down.
This play shows me three things. He can adjust his planned blocking quickly when situations change. He has some nastiness in his playing style. (His o-line coach will love that.). Finally he looks for work when the play is not over. Good job all around.
In this third clip you can see some really good athleticism, blocking on the move with patience in the play. This play is basically an extended handoff to the running back to get him into space. Trevor Lawrence was not playing due to COVID restrictions so with the Tigers down ten this was a safe play to get the drive started.
Carman rocks back in his stance at the snap to feign a block then moves quickly out into the flat as a lead blocker. WR #10 Joseph Ngata comes out to block LB Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah, but that plan failed. Watch as Carman runs to the outside. He looks very natural, not straining to get out in front of his ball carrier. For a 330+ lbs tackle he looks very fluid running. He then throttles down, eyes his target, breaks down into great blocking position squaring up his target, then puts a powerful push on the CB while on the move.
It’s no small feat that a 6’ 5” 335 tackle can find, catch, then block a 5’ 10” 180 lbs CB who is far more agile than the tackle much less to do it on the move in the open field. Carman took his time, didn’t lunge at the target, then administered an effective block. This play was successful gaining 8 yards on 1st and 10, but Carman showed some excellent athleticism.
Now let’s see how Carman handles quickness against an attacking edge rusher. In this clip Carman is going up against Justin Ademilola who is a 6’ 2” 248 lbs edge rusher with limited bend around the edge or power. Still being 85 lbs lighter than the big tackle gives him quite the quickness advantage.
This is near textbook blocking by Carman as he is able to control his opponent from the snap by getting his strong hands inside the frame of the rusher at the onset. He doesn’t hold his opponent. He even lets go when Ademilola spins back in order to free himself from the stalled rush. Carman’s base is wide. His legs shuffle back and forth but never come close to crossing. He is balanced and in a strong blocking position the entire time. This allows the backup QB D.J. Uiagalelei the time to find a streaking Cornell Powell for a easy TD. Carman showed balance, quickness, technique, and a solid anchor on this play.
These next two clips are from the same play as Clemson is trying to stay close in a game without their star QB. This is a read option play that the QB allows the RB to take the ball on a designed run left. The problem is Notre Dame is blitzing to that side with an ILB and a safety. There are more defenders than linemen to block for the offense.
If you look through the melee there is only one player on offense that is moving his guy right out of the picture. Carman has is man (#95 Myron Tagavailoa-Amosa or MTS) a 282 lbs senior defensive tackle pushed way off the line of scrimmage. MTS is trying to hold the edge so he tries moving outside. This only exacerbates the problems as he turns sideways losing any ability to anchor against Carman. Here is another look at the same play.
At the snap Carman steps to his right which does two things. First it allows his right guard an easy access around Carman on the guard’s pull. It also allows Carman to get an angle to push his man far to the left. Carman is trying to create such a push it will allow the RB (Travis Etienne) to find an alley so he can cut back then upfield. Carman has his man pushed so far to the left he has trouble keeping up with the tackle’s retreat. This play was a bust because Notre Dame guessed correctly and had the play completely covered with defenders in every hole and in the backfield. Carman actually did such a good job clearing the defensive tackle out of the way he created a void that both the safety and inside linebacker could use to snuff out the play.
There is one thing that gives Carman problems as a tackle. That one thing is speed. This is because Carman doesn’t have a quick slide step to cut off rushers plus he doesn’t have great length to help him push defenders by the QB. Here he is against Daelin Hayes a 6’ 4” 258 lbs DE who isn’t really a true bend the arc rusher. He has some speed but he is more of a pocket collapser. I show you the end of this play because I want you to watch the feet of Carman. A true slide step is quick, moving at a 45 degree angle with one foot on the ground at all times. Your feet can never cross, they must be in rhythm one after the other.
At one point both of Carman’s feet are off the ground, and his feet come too close to crossing, one gets over the other slightly. A veteran speed rusher like a Von Miller would see this on tape and destroy Carman around the edge. First he could beat him around the arc. He also could time a push to when Carman has both feet off the ground and simply push him over. Players like Miller dream of doing just that. If you are not touching the ground you can become very unstable with a good shove.
Miami noticed this so they put Keontra Smith a 5’ 11” 215 lbs striker outside of Carman. A striker is a hybrid position on the Miami defense, a cross between a safety and a OLB. It’s a rover position that can be used as a chess piece. Here he is rushing the QB with success.
Smith does a nice job of getting upfield before he turns the corner then makes contact with the big tackle. Carman tries to give Smith a punch to slow him, but it is ineffective because he was too far away. This allowed Smith to get almost past Carman’s left shoulder until Carman put the hook on him to protect his QB. Smith was able to take advantage of Carman because his slide step is too slow. The fear here is that Carman will be forced to jump more outside at the snap to create a better angle against a rush around the edge. If he does that it will open an alley inside where the rusher counters the move by Carman then gets to the QB even faster. Carman was called for holding on this play which was canceled out by the unnecessary roughing call on the hit to Trevor Lawrence.
Here against Daelin Hayes again Carman takes an ill-advised 90 degree step instead of shifting out at a 45 degree angle. By doing this he gives up the corner to the pass rusher which causes the QB to have to exit the pocket early. I added the reception to Travis Etienne to show you just how fast the play was completed, and still the QB had to move or be sacked.
Now this doesn’t preclude Carman from the tackle position in the NFL. The Jets or any team interested in Carman will have him in for a visit with the GM and the o-Line coach to see what can be done. Every player who comes to the NFL needs development so it is to necessary to find out what his physical capabilities are before the Draft.
I think Carman has a lot of talent. He is super athletic he just doesn’t have great lateral skills as of yet. If his skill set can’t be developed further he may be more suited to play guard in the NFL. He has the size, anchor, speed, power and disposition to excel as a guard. This is a place where his lateral deficiencies and lack of length will be highly mitigated. That would be a projection as he has never played as a guard in college or high school to my knowledge. That doesn’t mean he can’t. It just means he hasn’t done so yet. It will take a period of adjustment. His time as a left tackle would still provide some versatility if injuries created a short term need.
Clemson has some very good coaches on their staff with Robbie Caldwell serving as the offensive line coach. Caldwell has been coaching for 42 years. He was the head coach at Vanderbilt in 2010 then joined Clemson as an assistant head coach/offensive line coach in 2011. Whether John Benton (new Jets O-line coach) would be able to get more out of Carman is an unknown. I’m sure the coaches have different styles so there are bound to be some new techniques that Carman can incorporate into his game. If the Jets draft Carman then we will find out. Until then this is sheer speculation.
I think Jackson Carman is an intriguing prospect who could be a plug and play guard/tackle player for the next decade. He seems to be a smart kid who is well liked by teammates and his athletic prowess is off the charts for such a huge man. I currently have him as a late 2nd round prospect who will probably only last to the early to mid 2nd round in the draft.
That’s what I think.
What do you think?