New Dolphins OL Austin Jackson once donated bone marrow to save his sister’s life

Tribune Content Agency

Offensive linemen don’t play a glamorous position, and the nature of that position often requires personal sacrifice for the good of the team.

Former USC standout Austin Jackson, an offensive tackle whom the Dolphins selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, is quite familiar with personal sacrifice.

In the summer of 2019, Jackson donated bone marrow to his little sister, Autumn, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder called Diamond-Blackfan anemia.

That summer was supposed to be the time Jackson trained for what he hoped would be a breakout season, one which secured his standing as one of the nation’s top offensive linemen. But Jackson endured a painful procedure to save his sister’s life, and it led to a slow start in the 2019 season.

“I thought he struggled a little early on in the year, but he got more comfortable as the season progressed. … But the upside is tremendous for this kid,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Thursday when the pick was announced. “They are getting a true left tackle with outstanding foot quickness and athleticism.”

The Dolphins targeted one of the four elite offensive tackles this year’s draft, but weren’t able to maneuver their way up the board to get one.

Georgia’s Andrew Thomas was taken by the New York Giants with the fourth pick. The Cleveland Browns took Alabama’s Jedrick Wills Jr. with the 10th pick. The New York Jets selected Louisville’s Mekhi Becton with the 11th pick, and Tampa Bay traded up one spot to secure Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs.

Jackson, Houston’s Josh Jones, and Georgia’s Isaiah Wilson were the best of what was left when it came to top-50 offensive tackles.

Jackson, who is 6-foot-6, 322 pounds, has quick feet and the athleticism needed to mirror anyone he’s supposed to block. That will be helpful, considering he’ll be called on to compete with Julien Davenport and Jesse Davis for the starting left tackle spot.

Miami left that position unaddressed in free agency after adding offensive guard Ereck Flowers and center Ted Karras as free agents. Miami is going to need better blocking from the offensive line to protect veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and former Alabama standout Tua Tagovailoa, whom the Dolphins used the No. 5 pick to select.

Jackson, whose father Melvin Jackson was an offensive lineman for USC and played on the Trojans’ 1974 national championship team, is a fluid mover, and showed that at the NFL combine.

He ran a 5.07 in the 40 at the combine at 322 pounds which put him in the 88th percentile for offensive linemen. He bench pressed 225 pounds 27 times, and had a 115-inch broad jump. When he was in high school in the Phoenix area, despite weighing 290 pounds, Jackson anchored the tack team’s 4 X 100-meter relay team.

He also set schools records in both the shot put and discus and competed for the basketball team.

“He’s unmatched (athletically). Tremendous set quickness. Long arms. Good punch,” said ESPN analyst Louis Riddick on Thursday. “He just needs to stay more consistent when he goes up against technical pass rushers.”

The belief is that Jackson’s natural gifts, which weren’t always on display last season with the Trojans because of all he endured, makes his ceiling tremendously high, especially when he benefits from NFL coaching.

If Jackson learns quickly he’s got just as good a chance of starting as any tackle on the team because Davenport, who the Dolphins acquired in a trade with Houston at the beginning of last season, struggled for most of the snaps he spent on the field in 2019, after he returned to the lineup from a broken leg.

Those two will likely compete to see who starts opposite Jesse Davis, who will likely remain Miami’s right tackle.


©2020 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.