Instant analysis of Bengals picking McKinnley Jackson in the third round

The Cincinnati Bengals used the 97th pick in the 2024 NFL draft — their second selection in the third round — on McKinnley Jackson, a defensive tackle out of Texas A&M.

It’s not hard to see where the Bengals’ minds were at with this one. Jackson is a squatty, space-eating tackle who can play a run-stuffing role, which means he’s effectively a way to ease the loss of DJ Reader.

What’s interesting is that Jackson’s pre-draft evaluations (on the media side of things) were all over the place.’s Lance Zierlein, for example, projected him as a sixth-round pick while writing the following:

Squatty interior defender who felt somewhat miscast as a 0-technique nose over the center. Jackson is explosive off the snap with the ability to get into blockers quickly or to attack their edges as a penetrator. He tends to ride on blocks once they land squarely and needs to develop his hands for better counters as both a run defender and a rusher. Jackson plays with good strength, but he’s more gradual than twitchy in his battles. He might be more consistently effective at a lighter weight and as a rotational nose in a one-gapping even front.

Obviously, the Bengals feel a little differently. As a rookie, Jackson’s probably going to occupy that role previously held by Josh Tupou as a run-stuffing nose, leaving more of the snaps for guys like B.J. Hill and Sheldon Rankins.

That’s not unusual for a late-third-round pick, though. What projects nicely is Jackson’s long-term upside on the same line as second-round pick Kris Jenkins.

Bengals fans will hear a lot about grades and projections that were all over the place on Jackson. But if he can realize some of the potential in a proper role and become a valuable part of the rotation, it will look quite good in hindsight.

Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire