The Cincinnati Bengals wanted to get a new offensive tackle to protect second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. So, they went got Clemson’s Jackson Carman in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The All-ACC left tackle, who helped Clemson win a national championship in 2018 and play Burrow’s LSU Tigers in the 2019 title game, was selected No. 46 overall Friday in the second round by the Bengals.
Carman’s selection marked Clemson’s highest drafted offensive lineman since offensive guard Dave Thompson went No. 30 overall in the second round of the 1971 NFL Draft.
“The Bengals are getting a first-round talent. Like Tee Higgins last year, Tee Higgins went in the second round, but he was a top-15 talent and I think you saw that in how he played,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “Tee Higgins was a ready-to-go guy right out of the gate with his best football still in front of him and he left early right after his junior year, and I would say the same exact thing about Jackson. We have had him here for two-and-a-half years and Jackson is a ‘day one’ guy. He is going to play day one. He is not a guy who is going to redshirt.”
Carman’s selection is also the second straight year a Clemson offensive lineman was taken in the NFL Draft. Before John Simpson and Tremayne Anchrum went last year, a former Tiger offensive lineman had not been drafted since Brandon Thomas in 2014.
Thomas went to the 49ers with the 100th pick in the third round in 2014, while Simpson went to the Raiders last year at 109. Anchrum was picked by the Rams at 250 in the seventh round.
“They are getting a (first) class young man. He’s very smart, very intelligent,” Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell said about Carman. “He’s talented in football, of course, but he can do anything — sing, cook, play musical instruments — which tells you a little bit about his intelligence.
“He’s very athletic, a big guy who can run and bend. He can play guard or tackle, and I think they’re going to have a great locker room presence on top of a great player.”
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said the Bengals wanted to get a tackle early in the draft.
“They do it with Jackson Carman,” he said. “He played a little bit heavy last year, started to lose some weight later in the process. I think that will help him going into next year.
“He has had some injury concerns as well, but I feel like the theme that is going here, he is another big-time five-star prospect coming out of high school. One of the highest recruited offensive linemen to ever go to Clemson. Some people believe he is going to end up sliding inside to guard, but I have to believe the long-term plan for him in Cincinnati is going to be as a right tackle.”