Rice is a son of a punter – his father, Mike, was drafted in the eighth round by the New York Jets in 1987 out of the University of Montana. Jackson wasn’t necessarily keen on punting when he was younger, but his right leg eventually earned him a spot in kicking camps, the Maxwell Award as the nation’s top high school punter, and a scholarship to Oregon (among many other offers).
He stepped right into the starting job as a true freshman, averaging 40.5 yards a boot and placing 25 kicks inside the 20-yard line with only one touchback. The next year Rice improved his gross average (42.3) while maintaining that excellent inside 20-touchback ratio (18-3). He showed great improvement as a junior, becoming a Ray Guy Award finalist despite not having enough punts to qualify as one of the nation’s leaders (his 45.9-yard gross average would have rated sixth in the country) due to the Ducks’ explosive offense. Rice’s red zone ratio (17-2) was again fantastic, and the second-team All-Pac 12 pick set a personal best by forcing 17 fair catches in his 48 punts.
Even though Mike Rice never really got a chance to prove himself in the NFL, don’t look for that lack of opportunity to befall his son. With a solid senior season, Jackson’s consistent get-off and distance might allow him to hear his name called during the draft and have a long career.
Tall punter with a solid build and good leg extension. Solid get-off time on punts (1.3-1.35 seconds). Consistent hangtime/yardage combination when making good contact, typically in the 4.5-second range with 45-50 yard boots. Capable of a 60-yard boomer with 4.8-second hangtime. Former high school linebacker who likes to make contact when needed on punt returns. Holds for field goals and extra points.
Has the occasional poor hit, sometimes when under great pressure but even when having more time. Does not regularly turn the ball over, meaning hang time is too often lacking.
This son of a former NFL draft pick at punter (Mike Rice selected by the Jets in the eighth round of the 1987 draft) doesn’t get many chances to punt because of Oregon’s offense, but shows potential to consistently place punts inside the 20 yard-line and force NFL punt returners to make fair catches.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.