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2024 NFL Draft Player Profile: Jackson Powers-Johnson, OC/OG, Oregon

Should Jackson Powers-Johnson be in the mix for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first-round of the 2024 NFL Draft?

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon Craig Strobeck-USA TODAY Sports

The importance of stellar play at the center position has been on full display during this year’s NFL playoffs. Of the four teams in the conference championship round, three of them had their starting center voted into the Pro Bowl and were all once high draft picks for their respective teams (Ragnow, Humphrey, Linderbaum).

A player who fits the same type of profile of those elites is Oregon’s Jackson Powers-Johnson.

Most have long considered JPJ to be the top center prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft, and his performance last week in Senior Bowl practices only strengthened that case. Although just a one-year starter, Powers-Johnson was named a consensus All-American in 2023 after a truly dominant season, and he’s just scratching the surface of what he could become at the next level.

With the Jacksonville Jaguars coming off a season of miserable interior line play, could Powers-Johnson be on the table for Trent Baalke and company in the first round? Let’s dive a little deeper into his game in the first of our 2024 NFL Draft player profiles series.

Measurables

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 334

Hands: 9 5/8″

Arm Length: 32 1/8”

Wingspan: 79”

(official Senior Bowl measurements)

Strengths

  • Team captain
  • Scheme versatility
  • Can play anywhere on the interior, although his ceiling is higher at center
  • Incredible mover in space for his size. His lateral agility and acceleration when getting out wide jump off the screen
  • Quick to anchor with his imposing frame and mass
  • Super fast and powerful hands flash consistently. Proved to be a great recovery tool when beaten off the snap
  • Consistently keeps balanced through the point of contact
  • Incredible grip strength. Particularly evident when tasked with getting his mitts on smaller, more agile players in space
  • Moves through combo blocks with poise and climbs to the second level with intention

Weaknesses

  • Just 16 career starts on the offensive line (Had 1 start at DT as a freshman)
  • Processing on blitzes comes and goes but he’s so good at recovering it doesn’t hurt him much
  • As good as he is in space, I would like to see more examples of physicality when finishing plays in the open field
  • His modest wingspan shows up when lengthier rushers get into his chest
  • Always has his head on a swivel but it can lead to lapses in technique on his initial block when in combo situations
  • Guilty of a false step here and there. Could clean up the footwork a touch
  • Had five false start penalties in 2023

Projection and Fit

In a really deep class of interior offensive linemen in the 2024 NFL Draft, Jackson Powers-Johnson stands above the rest as the most NFL-ready prospect in the group.

He has the power, size, technique, and versatility that every team across the NFL looks for at both the guard and center positions. Pair that with his scheme flexibility and you have the makings of an immediate starter at the next level.

In terms of his fit in Jacksonville, Jackson Powers-Johnson would be an immediate upgrade at both the left guard and center spots for the Jaguars. He has experience in both zone and gap concepts coming from Oregon’s pro-style system, so adjusting to Press Taylor’s offense should be seamless.

Conclusion

Powers-Johnson is by no means a perfect prospect, but what he is is a technically sound mauler that would instantly elevate a lifeless Jacksonville rushing attack, while also adding a bit of an edge to an otherwise pillowy soft interior. His combination of physicality and reliability would be a breath of fresh air on this Jaguars front.

While 17th overall might seem a little early for a center, you’d be hard-pressed to find another player on the board that would be as big of an upgrade over the current starter at their respective position. It isn’t sexy, but it just might be the best thing for this offense in 2024.

Grade: 8.4 (immediate starter)

Big Cat Country NFL Draft Grading Scale
9.5 to 10 – Top-10 lock. Rare attributes both physically and mentally. Clearly the most talented player on the field in college. Game-changing/wrecking projection at the next level. Potential be top-10 at their position right away.
8.5 to 9.4 – Unquestioned first-round prospect. Elite physical and mental profile. Performed consistently at a high level, no matter the competition in college. Expectations to be an immediate impact player.
7.5 to 8.4 – Mixed opinions on first-round projection. Above average physical profile. Considered a great player at respective school but not a household name. Performs admirably against top competition. Potential to be an immediate starter at the next level. 1-2 round pick.
6.5 to 7.4 – Day 2 prospect. Good athlete but can’t match up with the league’s best. Productive collegiate career. Expectation to perform in a rotational role as a rookie. Potential to become a starter over time.
5.5 to 6.4 – Fringe late Day 2/early Day 3 prospect. Admirable athletic profile. More potential than finished product. Lacking necessary measurables at their position but have found ways to win without them. Rotational piece with a role on special teams as well.
4.5 to 5.4– Day 3 prospect. Either a low ceiling athletically or undersized for their position. Potential for red flag of some sort (exp. Injuries, lack of college production, off-field issues etc.). Still provides an element of intrigue when projecting to the next level. Predominately a special teams player.
3.5 to 4.4 – Bottom half of Day 3 prospect. Underwhelming collegiate career (or small school product). Has a singular trait that’s worth a late round swing of the bat. Chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp. Uphill battle to make final 53.
2 to 3.4 - Priority free agent signee. Traits worth exploring. Camp body.
1 to 1.9 – Clearly not of NFL quality. Lacks the necessary athletic, mental, and skill levels to make any contributions in the league.