Iowa Hawkeye and LA Rams UDFA rookie offensive tackle Alaric Jackson, a.k.a. A.J. Jackson, may not have heard his name called out during the 2021 NFL Draft, but he should be considered as a drafted offensive lineman after signing on with the Rams. After all, he had been projected anywhere from the third to the sixth round of the draft, and he most certainly fills a developmental need on this roster.
Both head coach Sean McVay and GM Les Snead faced continual scrutiny over the plans to address the offensive line this off-season. While the Rams lost starting offensive center Austin Blythe, the roster truly experiences a mass exodus next year as five of the team’s offensive linemen face expiring contracts. Snead himself mentioned Jackson by name when faced with those recurring questions from media at a post-draft press conference.
To be honest, the buzz about A.J. Jackson started as soon as he signed with the LA Rams. All of the factors that lead to optimism and buzz over the player are present. He was a draftable player who fell out of the draft. He was signed by a team with a clear need for his talent in one year’s time. He has the right dimensions and collegiate pedigree to have a solid chance of becoming a starter in the NFL. He even is playing for a position coach who coached up a former player from his alma mater into an All-Pro player.
There is no guarantee that lightning such as that will strike twice in the same spot. But it’s enough to poke at healthy imaginations to move to a far more optimistic and hopeful spot.