The 2023 NFL Draft class is deep and talented on both sides of the ball, including the offensive line, where Washington guard Jaxson Kirkland is a name to watch as a potential mid-round value as the draft approaches. While most of the conversation has been focused on the top names in the class, what does Kirkland’s scouting report suggest about his NFL draft stock?
Jaxson Kirkland NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Guard
- School: Washington
- Year: Sixth-Year Senior
Offensive line is a thankless position. More often than not, they are only talked about when something goes wrong, and the only ones who understand how much work goes in are those in the locker room.
Despite all the accolades, Kirkland hasn’t seen his name discussed quite as much as some of the other big names in this class, but he could be one of the underrated, mid-round gems for teams looking to bolster their offensive line for 2023 and beyond.
A sixth-year player, Kirkland had plenty of expectations placed on him entering college. The No. 5 overall prospect in Oregon, Kirkland had big shoes to fill as his father, Dean, was a first-team All-Pac-10 offensive guard who spent five seasons for the Washington Huskies between 1986 and 1990.
Kirkland did not disappoint. After redshirting his 2018 season, Kirkland would start all 46 games he appeared in for the Huskies, starting with 11 games in 2019 before getting hurt against Colorado and having to sit out the final two games.
The 2020 and 2021 seasons brought a change in more ways than one. Not only did Kirkland switch to offensive tackle, but a pandemic ended his 2020 season, and an ankle injury severely limited his play in 2021, forcing him to miss two games. Kirkland eventually brought home not only an All-Pac-12 first-team selection but also a member of the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll.
Kirkland’s offseason entering 2022 was busy and filled with challenges. Not only was he recovering from postseason surgery, but Kirkland also had to petition the NCAA so he could return for a sixth season after initially declaring for the NFL draft. Yet, he returned to the university to play for newly signed head coach Kalen DeBoer. Once back with the team, the decision was made that it would be better for Kirkland to switch back to guard rather than play tackle.
After missing the first three games of the season, Kirkland returned and played left tackle in the Stanford game but started at left guard for the remainder of the season. Voted team captain, Kirkland’s top moment at Washington came later in the season in a game against Oregon in which it became personal to him.
After going to high school in Portland, Kirkland was considered by many fans to be a defector for playing at Washington, which is one of Oregon’s biggest rivals. During the game at Autzen Stadium, a video featuring Kirkland and other Pac-12 athletes speaking on behalf of mental health and preventative care options played on the Jumbotron. When his face came up, Oregon fans booed loudly. But at the end of the day, all he and the Huskies had to do was point to the scoreboard as they left town with a 37-34 victory.
“I love that stuff, I love playing in that atmosphere,” Kirkland said. “To win in the fashion we did, like when they’re booing you like that, and to have the crowd be dead silent, and have the air just out of the stadium, what better picture could you ask for?”
Kirkland allowed just nine pressures, two QB hits, and did not allow a single sack of Michael Penix Jr. in 2022. In doing so, Kirkland was named first-team All-Pac 12 by the coaches, third-team AP All-American, and a second-team All-American selection by USA Today.
With no more eligibility left, the 6’7″ and 321-pound guard will have to wait for his name to be called during the 2023 NFL Draft. When that happens will largely depend on what the scouting report says are his strengths, weaknesses, and best fits as he takes the next step in his journey.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Jaxson Kirkland
Jaxson Kirkland’s Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’7″
- Weight: 321 pounds
- Arm Length: 33 1/2″
- Hand Size: 10 1/2″
- Bench Press: 19
Washington Guard Jaxson Kirkland Current Draft Projection
There are some great offensive linemen in this year’s class, primarily at offensive tackle. Still, the interior has some top names as well, including Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski, who will likely be one of the first linemen to hear his name called.
I don’t expect the same to be the case for Kirkland, who is the G11 in Tony Pauline’s Big Board and No. 165 overall, with a 3.42 grade and a draft projection that places him inside of the fifth round.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Order
Being a 25-year-old rookie will certainly set Kirkland back. By the time his rookie contract is over, he’ll be near age 30, but that’s not to say he can’t have a productive, albeit shorter, NFL career.
If Kirkland lands on a team with a history of developing offensive linemen, Kirkland could very well be a significant value when we look back and re-grade the 2023 NFL Draft class. But even if his career doesn’t evolve to being more than an average backup, having reliable talent on the depth chart is one of the most crucial aspects of building a successful franchise. Kirkland could very well be one of those integral pieces.
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