This month, we're conducting an in-depth breakdown for each of the Jets' undrafted free agent signings. Today we're moving on to look at offensive lineman Austin Golson.
The 22-year old Golson, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, initially attended college at Ole Miss before transferring to Auburn and playing his last three years there.
Golson was a four-star high school recruit who initially went to Ole Miss, where he played in 12 games as a freshman, mostly at guard.
At the end of his first season, he opted to transfer to Auburn because his grandparents were ill and he wanted to be closer to home. He had to sit out a year and walk on at Auburn, but he was a three-year starter from 2015 to 2017.
Golson was not invited to the scouting combine, but did earn an invitation to both the East West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
At the end of his college career, Golson was ranked as the 12th best offensive lineman in the draft by Walter Football, who gave him a 5th-7th round grade. However, CBS only ranked him as the 13th best center and 307th best overall prospect.
Now let's look at what Golson brings to the table, divided into categories.
The first thing to note is that although Golson is listed at 315 pounds, he actually weighed 304 during the offseason, so that's probably based on old information.
The book on Golson is that he's not much of an athlete, but actually his pro day numbers were above average across the board.
Golson (#73) showcases his athleticism on this play as he gets way downfield and makes a block:
Golson's best asset is his versatility. In 2017, he played six positions, starting games at every offensive line position apart from right guard but also playing right guard and tight end is some unbalanced line formations.
He played tackle in high school, mostly at guard in his freshman year at Ole Miss and at center in his first year with the Tigers. In 2016, he started at left tackle in the first four games before reverting to center for the rest of the season.
Golson's pass protection numbers have been pretty good although he can struggle against speed sometimes, as this play against Shaquem Griffin shows:
Even on that play you can see how Golson strived to stay on the block and was able to prevent Griffin from getting to the quarterback cleanly. He will regularly exhibit the strength to redirect an edge rusher up the field if he loses an initial leverage advantage.
On this play, Golson - still working at left tackle - moves his feet well and is able to repel a spin move:
When working on the interior, he can be susceptible to the bull rush at times. Here he gets driven back for a sack while playing center against Clemson:
However, on this play at right guard from the East West Shrine Game, he is initially driven back off his spot but is able to re-anchor and give the quarterback time to throw a touchdown pass:
Golson, working at right tackle on this play, battles at the point of attack and is able to seal his man to the outside:
Again, he can be susceptible to quickness though. He is playing right guard here and allows his man to blow up this run by shooting a gap:
Whether in the running game or on screen passes, Golson is not bad at blocking on the move and hustles to the edge here to get just enough of the cornerback to spring a 75-yard pass play:
He will at times lunge into his blocks and overextend, enabling his man to get off the block and in on the play:
As you've already seem from the above gifs, Golson moves his feet pretty well and battles at the point of attack. He also takes good angles in space.
Pad level can be an issue at times and this can lead to him getting stood up at the line or losing leverage, as happened on this play at right tackle:
Golson plays with good discipline as he only averaged three penalties per season during his time at Auburn.
Golson didn't make any significant contributions on special teams in college. You can expect him to feature on the placekicking unit and that's about all.
Golson was on the acaedemic honor roll in college and is regarded as having a high football IQ. He was said to have known the offense inside-out having played so many different roles.
However, there were still breakdowns at times. Clearly the protection got messed up on this play with him at center:
His awareness on this stunt was questionable too:
Unsurprisingly, given his willingness to take on a variety of different roles at Auburn, Golson has been lauded for his outstanding intangibles.
He is described as focused and self-motivated displaying a selfless team-first attitude and showing toughness and leadership.
Golson started every game over his last two seasons with Auburn. However, he missed the bowl game in his freshman season as he had to get shoulder surgery and missed two games with a knee injury in 2015.
The Jets are expected to move to a scheme with more zone blocking under new running game coordinator Rick Dennison so it's worth noting that Auburn often used pulling linemen. However, they have also used plenty of inside zone. Golson's better than advertised athleticism should serve him well in the new scheme.
Some of the scouting reports on Golson were pretty negative in terms of him being limited athleticially and lacking power, explosiveness and technique. However, he seems to have got himself into better shape over the last year and his film indicates that some experts may be underestimating him.
He's been a consistent pass blocker over the course of his college career but has been less consistent as a run blocker, especially in his senior year. Perhaps that's a symptom of playing on a line that had to keep moving pieces around due to injuries.
His ability to hold his own at each position will no doubt have impressed teams and dramatically helps his chances of having an NFL future somewhere. While it may be difficult for him to earn a roster spot with the Jets unless there are injuries, a practice squad berth may not be beyond him.