Opening day countdowns are great. So are player profiles. Here at Musket Fire, we decided to combine them and create a Week 1 countdown-oriented, jersey number-dictated player profile series. Yesterday, we looked at No. 64 Chris Barker, and the day before that it was No. 65 Jordan Devey. Because today marks 63 days until the New England Patriots open 2015, we are profiling No. 63, guard Tre’ Jackson.
The 111th pick of the 2015 NFL Draft, Jackson should replace likely-to-retire Dan Connolly at left guard. Draft pundits had Jackson going in the top 100 picks, so the Patriots were very fortunate that he was on the board in the fourth round.
First of all, Jackson’s talent is unquestioned. He started 42 of the 47 games he suited up for at Florida State, making his fair share of contributions to a major college football powerhouse of the 2010s. Jackson serves somewhat as a poster boy for the Seminoles’ dominance over the past two seasons in particular, as he earned All-ACC honors in each of the past two years.
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The main knock on Jackson is his slow feet, which the Patriots will want to address with the right conditioning and weight control. However, it’s Jackson’s 330-pound frame that will serve the Patriots’ ground game well.
With Jackson and fellow 2015 fourth rounder Shaq Mason in the fold, it’s clear that the ground game will be an integral part of the Patriots’ offensive strategy this season. An aging Tom Brady will benefit from an offensive line that can regularly plow lanes for LeGarrette Blount and the other ball carriers.
Much like Mason and fellow FSU product Bryan Stork, Jackson represents the new wave of New England offensive linemen. We must pay homage to Connolly’s play over the years, but the Patriots are better off with Jackson starting at left guard against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1.
In case you missed them, here are the profiles for No. 66 Bryan Stork, No. 67 Josh Kline, No. 68 Caylin Hauptmann, No. 69 Shaq Mason, No. 71 Cameron Fleming, No. 72 Joe Vellano, No. 74 Trey Flowers, No. 76 Sebastian Vollmer, No. 77 Nate Solder, No. 80 Danny Amendola, No. 82 Josh Boyce, No. 84 Brian Tyms, No. 85 Jake Bequette and No. 86 A.J. Derby.