Why OT Alaric Jackson may be the next bit Rams payday
While there are no guarantees that 6-foot-7 330-pound offensive tackle Alaric Jackson earns a starting role for the LA Rams offensive line, I'm not sure that the team can keep that much talent on the bench for another season. While he has proven to be an incredibly versatile offensive lineman, he has the size and the raw ferocity that is a prerequisite to a long-term career as an NFL offensive tackle.
The LA Rams are just itching to find someone, anyone, who can start at left tackle and prove to the NFL and the Rams fans that the guy who has been entrusted to start is both competent and durable. I believe that Alaric Jackson can check both of those boxes if given the opportunity to do so.
I'm not trying to overlook the fact that the LA Rams signed and assumed that Joe Noteboom would be their starter at left tackle. But he suffered a devastating Achilles Tendon injury that will take a significant amount of time to heal (I would allow 18 months), and he was struggling at left tackle before suffering that injury.
After a dysfunctional and injury-devastated offensive line struggled last season, you can bet that any proposal to start offensive linemen this year will need to be signed off by the OL Coach, the Offensive Coordinator, and the Head Coach. Does that favor Alaric Jackson? I think that the OL Coach Ryan Wendell and OC Mike LaFleur will lobby hard to get that snarling junkyard dog ferocity that Alaric Jackson brings to the group into a starting role.
While Alaric Jackson is also projected to be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2023 NFL season, I believe that if he earns a starting role on this offensive line, he too could be tendered a first-round qualifying offer by an LA Rams organization that would love to tie-down their starting left tackle for the 2024 NFL season. So what would it take to deserve such an offer?
If Jackson can get 900+ offensive snaps at left tackle, give up six or fewer quarterback sacks, and commit no more than five penalties, I believe that he will deservedly earn that first-round qualifying tender offer. Can he deliver? In 2022, he played 422 offensive snaps, allowed just two quarterback sacks, and committed just two penalties. I believe that he can hit those targets.
But, like any player named in this article, it only happens if the Rams give him a chance.