In the NFL, offensive linemen have to be physical. Few 2022 NFL Draft scouting reports emulate that ideal better than Washington OG Jaxson Kirkland. Kirkland has started at multiple spots over the years, but one thing that’s always remained constant is his demeanor. Kirkland has a reputation, but will it earn him a spot in the 2022 NFL Draft?
Jaxson Kirkland NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Lineman
- School: Washington
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height: 6’7″
- Weight: 310 pounds
Jaxson Kirkland Scouting Report
It remains to be seen what the Washington Huskies will look like on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback Dylan Morris will be tasked with fending off highly-rated recruit Sam Huard in his second year as the starter. The team’s touches at running back will also be in flux, as Sean McGrew, Kamari Pleasant, and Richard Newton will presumably battle for reps.
There may be a lot of change on the horizon for the Huskies in Jimmy Lake’s second year, but one steady constant will be Kirkland on the offensive line. Kirkland has been a starter since 2018, and he provides immense value with his versatility and reliability. Diving deeper into Kirkland’s scouting report, how does the Washington OG project as an NFL Draft prospect?
Jaxson Kirkland’s athletic profile
At 6’7”, 310 pounds, Kirkland sports an unorthodox frame. He’s incredibly long and lean, and his lower body is especially thin. He’s wider in his upper body, however, and he derives good strength from that area. Kirkland generates solid torque when latched onto opponents, and he has the grip strength to establish anchors quickly.
Kirkland keeps a wide base in pass protection, and he plays with decent hip sink. His sheer width allows him to cover a large area along the edge. The Washington OG has an extensive reach, and his size makes it difficult for defenders to gain separation.
On the edge, he gathers defenders well. While not an elite athlete, he has decent mobility overall, and his hips are fairly fluid for his size. His long strides, combined with his energy, allow him to cover ground better than expected.
On top of his sheer size, Kirkland owns stellar natural balance. He’s not easy to move off-base, and his footwork helps to channel and strengthen his balance.
Execution beyond the physical traits
While Kirkland’s size is no doubt a positive, his athletic profile isn’t the strongest foundational part of his NFL Draft scouting report. Rather, Kirkland’s execution is what makes him so alluring as a prospect.
Most notably, Kirkland has excellent hands. He has an attacking mentality in close quarters and hurries to make first contact. His hands move with ferocious speed and energy, and they carry great momentum.
Kirkland has the precision to target opposing arms and wrench them down. He’s always focused and alert, and he’s shown to effortlessly employ counters as leverage fluctuates across the rep. The Washington OG can adjust his hands with quickness, and he promptly recognizes where to attack next.
Beyond his hands, the positive notes continue. Kirkland keeps his feet active when anchored, and he has decent leg drive. Additionally, the Washington OG is an absolute mauler. He brings a nasty disposition to the field and relishes the chance to finish opponents.
Furthermore, Kirkland plays with unmistakable energy. He always expends maximum effort on reps. He has great urgency off the snap and features an amped-up style overall. At the second level, Kirkland has a constant work mindset, and he actively seeks to stack blocks.
Areas for improvement
Kirkland’s profile, while strong, is not without its imperfections. Many of those imperfections revolve around his ceiling. While he has some mobility, Kirkland is clearly not an elite athlete. He doesn’t have elite suddenness or range as a lateral mover, and he doesn’t quite have the elite burst to transfer length into artificial power. His range as a motion blocker can be inconsistent. Because of this, he sometimes clogs lanes at the second level rather than clearing them.
Going further, Kirkland doesn’t have the corrective athleticism to adjust his blocking angles when defenders evade. He’s also relatively stiff as a mover and not always smooth blocking in space. With his frame, Kirkland is a bit leggy at times, and his efficiency of motion has some room for refinement.
Moving forward, Kirkland’s frame also points to more deficiencies. The Washington OG sometimes struggles to lower his pad level with his high-hipped body type. Moreover, his lack of mass can make it easier for him to be driven backward into his QB. Kirkland doesn’t always have the raw power to neutralize rushers around the edge, and he sometimes lacks the power necessary to direct linemen away from lanes and clear space.
Among other things, Kirkland’s grip strength is not infallible. Additionally, he can better bend his elbows in pass protection to maximize exerted power.
Jaxson Kirkland’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Kirkland’s playing style exudes energy. It’s no surprise that he’s garnered national accolades as a result.
The Washington OG has the unforgiving proactive mentality that blockers need to succeed in the trenches. He’s also reasonably long and balanced, and that combination equates to a high floor. With his hands and constant urgency, Kirkland could quickly crack a starting lineup in the NFL.
The question for Kirkland, however, revolves around his upside. While he’s mobile enough, he’s not an elite athlete. Furthermore, his lean frame may not be as formidable against larger, more powerful NFL defenders. Kirkland should look to add more mass to his frame, but even then, he might sap some of the athleticism he does have. Another complicating factor is his age –- Kirkland will be 24 years old as a rookie.
Nevertheless, with his positional versatility, pent-up aggression, and strong hand usage, Kirkland has a skill set built to negate physical limitations to an extent. And the cupboard isn’t bare from a physical standpoint. Thus, Kirkland is worth a Day 2 pick as a potential starter. A solid one at that.
Jaxson Kirkland’s Player Profile
Some guys are just born big. When Kirkland was a senior in high school, he was already 6’7” and well over 300 pounds. He wasn’t a top-tier athlete with that size -– he logged a 5.92 40-yard dash and a 23.4-inch vertical jump in testing. But he still loomed over all his high school counterparts and most adults as well.
Still, Kirkland only drew a three-star recruit rating on ESPN’s big board. The Portland, Oregon native had scholarship offers from Oregon, California, Texas Tech, and Washington State. However, even with an in-state offer from a high-level program, Kirkland chose to go to Washington, where his father (Dean Kirkland) played offensive line from 1988 to 1990.
Kirkland’s career at Washington
Kirkland redshirted his first season with the Huskies, but after that, it was non-stop action. As a redshirt freshman, Kirkland — who had been recruited as a tackle — switched over to right guard and started all 14 games. He earned Freshman All-American consideration and returned as the starter in 2019, starting 11 more games.
In 2020, Kirkland made the switch back to left tackle, holding down the blindside for the Huskies, and he didn’t miss a beat. The Washington OG started all four games, helping his team reach the Pac-12 Championship Game. Kirkland earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors for his performance, alongside 2021 NFL Draft picks Alijah Vera-Tucker and Drew Dalman.
All told, Kirkland has started 29 total games for Washington over three years. While 25 of those have been at guard, the four most recent — and perhaps his best four — were at tackle.
Jaxson Kirkland’s NFL Draft ascension
By the conclusion of the 2021 season — assuming health remains constant — Kirkland will have started over 40 games for the Huskies. The Washington OG already has a strong track record, but another productive season could place him in good company this coming spring.
Kirkland’s NFL Draft scouting report is a strong one. While he may not have the physical upside to break into Round 1, Kirkland has the mentality and precision that will surely earn him fans not long after. The Washington product should have a chance to start at the NFL level — either at tackle or guard — and early on. His experience at multiple positions affords him even more utility.