Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State (Round 3, pick 67)
Weighing in at 336 lbs, Gabe Jackson was the biggest offensive guard in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has great size with long arms (33 1/4") and a strong lower body. He has prototypical height (6'3") that allows him to hold his own against bigger defensive lineman while still creating leverage.
Despite his large frame, Jackson is surprisingly nimble and quick on his feet. He is athletic enough to be an effective puller. While his 5.51 40-yard dash and 20-yard split (3.28) are terrible Jackson has good speed when running in close distances (5-10 yards such as pulling). It is not very often when a guard is asked to run 40 yards down field to block someone.
Jackson is an explosive athlete. His 29-inch vertical was the fifth best of any offensive lineman at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. He is very strong and benched 225 lbs 30 times (eigth best of any offensive lineman) at the combine.
Overall, Jackson is pretty efficient in pass protection. His intelligence and experience (four-year starter) help him recognize blitzes and defensive schemes. He has great balance and control. Jackson's size provides him a steady base along with great leverage. He uses his eyes well and has quick reactions. Jackson keeps his hands inside and controls defenders without getting called for holding.
While his technique is spot on for the most part, he occasionally over-extends. Jackson needs to improve digging his heels into the ground when bull rushed.
This is where Jackson will contribute the most on the Raiders offensive line. He is an exceptional run blocker who is smart and physical. He uses his size to wall off running lanes creating large holes for the runningback. He has a strong punch that is capable of knocking defenders backwards. He understands angles and head placement. Despite his slow 40-yard dash, he accelerates quickly. 52 games of experience in the SEC have given him advanced technique.
"The guy is a technique guru. I've watched him over and over," said fellow Mississippi State guard Jamaal Clayborn. "What sets him apart from everybody else is he doesn't make mistakes."
While Jackson is an explosive athlete, he does not always play like one. He has shown struggles at the second level (linebackers) breaking down in space. Jackson sometimes gets stuck in the first level (defensive lineman) causing him to reach the second level slowly.
Gabe Jackson is a motivated player that competes. Even when he was the top offensive guard in the SEC, Jackson showed up every day ready to work.
"What I loved about him is he was a hard worker," Mississippi State Dan Mullen said in an interview with The Clarion-Ledger. "Even though he was a guy, like this year he was a returning all-conference player and really an All-American type player ... (he) came to work every day."
Jackson has set the bar high for himself and is confident in his abilities. "(The Raiders are getting a player who) won't get in any trouble or have any off-the-field issues," Jackson said. "I'll come to work every day."
Gabe Jackson has two big weaknesses. He is not fast and he does not play very explosive. As his vertical and broad jump show, Jackson is an explosive athlete; he just does not always show it on the field. If Jackson can improve this, he could become a dominant offensive guard in the NFL.
Gabe Jackson is going to be a day one starter on the Raiders offensive line. He is a well-rounded offensive guard that can effectively pass block and run block. He has great size and athleticism. Jackson has four years of experience against top competition in the SEC. He has a great work ethic and does not get into trouble off the field.
"He's NFL-ready right now," NFLDraftScout and CBS Sports draft analyst Dan Brugler said Wednesday. "(He) should be able to contribute from Day 1 as a rookie."
But, Jackson still has improving to do. He needs to stop reaching when pass blocking and dig his feet when bull rushed. If Jackson wants to become a star in the NFL, he will have to become more explosive.