The Detroit Lions already look like they’ve found some stars in the making for their offensive line, but it’s possible that a new stud could emerge from the pack to become the best of the bunch.
In terms of what players are projected to take such a jump, it’s hard to find folks that would pick names outside of the Frank Ragnow, Penei Sewell or Taylor Decker lexicon, but an analyst has stuck their neck out for a new name to become a stud up front in Detroit starting in 2022.
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Guard Jonah Jackson is already coming off a season in which he made the Pro Bowl and looked phenomenal in Detroit. But Pro Football Focus is projecting an even bigger explosion for Jackson in 2022, and has identified him as a new breakout candidate to watch.
Writer Michael Renner put together a list of 10 players primed for a 2022 breakout season. Jackson checked in on the list in the four spot, and it was due in large part to the durability and grit he’s shown so far in the league.
“Jackson has played over 1,000 snaps in each of his first two seasons — a great glimpse of his career progression to date. We saw it full well in his grading profile, as he earned a 74.5 overall grade from Week 7 on in 2021. Over the course of a full season, that figure would have ranked 12th among all starting guards. Now entrenched on the left side next to veteran Taylor Decker for the entire season, expect Jackson to be in the Pro Bowl conversation at year’s end,” Renner wrote for Jackson in the piece.
Being in the Pro Bowl conversation seems expected given it played out last year, so Jackson could theoretically take that a step further and get himself into the All-Pro discussion as well if things work out for the best.
Many might not be thinking about Jackson as a candidate to bust loose again, but it might be passed time to start taking him seriously.
Jackson Called ‘Under-Appreciated’ Lion This Offseason
While many appreciate his talent, it’s true that Jackson has also been underrated a bit with the Lions to start his career. He was a Pro Bowler for the 2021-22 season. He has been a solid anchor up front for a young Detroit line, but he might also be one of the most under-appreciated players in the NFL. That’s according to NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund.
The numbers analyst took a closer look at picking out the most under-appreciated player on every roster via what she called a “context-based model.” When the process was finished, Jackson was the selection for Detroit.
As Frelund wrote, “computer vision shows that Jackson’s run blocking improved significantly over the course of the season while his pass blocking was drastically better when the Lions were able to use more balanced play-calling (not just the pass).”
Finding more of that balance could be the key toward getting Jackson some more recognition for 2022 and beyond.
Jackson’s Career Stats & Highlights
Underrated or not, the facts don’t lie about where Jackson could be heading for the team. He played in the Pro Bowl last season, and while he has not received any other major accolades, that doesn’t change the fact that Jackson has been a strong player for the Lions since he joined the team. Perhaps most significantly, Jackson started 16 games as a rookie and was a load up front for the Lions considering his ability to play solid football. It’s not often that the Lions have a young lineman capable of playing a starting role right off the bat while not looking out of place in the league, but that’s just what Jackson brought to the mix for the team as a rookie last season.
While he was a first-year man out of Ohio State, Jackson showed the kind of toughness and grit that could make him a fixture in the NFL and keep him as a high-level starter.
Heading toward 2022, there will be lots of thoughts swirling about which Lions could be primed to break out the most. Keep Jackson’s name near the top of that list with this analysis in mind.