An easy to overlook piece of a good Detroit Lions’ offensive line, Jonah Jackson has been placed highly on a list of NFL third-year breakout candidates.
The Detroit Lions offensive line has three first-round picks, and another player they paid big for in free agency a couple years ago. But it was the one that fits neither of those descriptions, left guard Jonah Jackson, who went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year.
Jackson was a third-round pick out of Ohio State in the 2020 draft. He has started all 32 games he has played over two seasons, playing over 1,000 snaps in each campaign.
Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com named Jackson the most underappreciated player on the Lions’ roster earlier this offseason. Based on a new list elsewhere, he may not qualify for a list like that anymore.
Michael Renner of Pro Football Focus has ranked his 10 best Year 3 breakout candidates heading into the 2022 season. There are only two skill position guys on the list, and the rest are on defense or the offensive line. Jackson is on the list, as you might have expected.
But where he is on the list is eye-opening.
Jonah Jackson ranked highly on third-year breakout candidates list
4. G JONAH JACKSON, DETROIT LIONS
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 mentioned Jackson working alongside Decker on the left side for the entire season in 2022, and within the context of his top-12 PFF grade after Week 7 (Decker made his season debut in Week 10) that’s meaningful. But Jackson also worked well next to Penei Sewell when the rookie played left tackle in place of an injured Decker the first half of last year.
Jackson is getting noticed as a key piece of the Lions’ best position group. If people are healthy around him, there is another level he can get to this year to become one of the best guards in the league.