|Class:||RS Senior||40 time:||N/A|
After 2013 saw one of the best classes of offensive guards enter the NFL Draft, with Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack being picked in the top 10, it would seem that things will return to normal in 2014. However, Mississippi State‘s Gabe Jackson is just about as close to a plug-and-play guard as one can get, and as a result he should be taken early.
Jackson, who has started for the Bulldogs since the beginning of his redshirt freshman year, has the build and playing style of a prototypical guard. He’s plenty wide at 340 pounds, but he’s very strong and frequently runs opposing defenders into the ground. He’s very disciplined and rarely gets beat, even against the best of competition. In terms of the type of player he is, Jackson is actually very similar to Warmack, the only difference being that Warmack played in a more successful program at Alabama.
Jackson has a few weaknesses as well, though none of them severely limit his play. The most pressing one would seem to be his speed, as he tends to be a bit slow off the ball. This could become a bigger issue once he becomes a pro in an NFL as the defensive linemen there are faster than ever. One seemingly obvious solution to this issue would be for him to cut some weight, which the team who drafts him will most likely ask him to do.
In addition, Jackson sometimes plays too high, which results in him not gaining ground on run plays or getting pushed back by pass rushers. This would be another reason for him to shed a few pounds, as it may allow him to get some extra knee bend.
Overall, though, Jackson’s strengths significantly outweigh his weaknesses. He’ll be battling with Baylor‘s Cyril Richardson to be the first guard taken in the draft, and one or both of them could end up going in the first round. If Jackson doesn’t come off the board within the first 32 picks, he’s almost a sure bet to be taken during the second round.
- Exceptional strength; a real road grader who frequently pancake opponents
- Four-year starter who has experience playing in a balanced, pro-style offense
- A disciplined protector who rarely gets beat
- Quick on pulls
- “Stalemates” too often while struggling to get a good push on defenders
- Could stand to get quicker as initial step off the ball is sometimes a bit slow
- Not too effective with his cut blocks
- On a few occasions, has stayed too high on pass plays and was driven back
- Some teams may see his 340-pound frame as a negative and want him to get leaner
Jackson has been consistent while playing as part of an offensive line that has struggled a bit while dealing with injuries and the inexperience of two first-year starters at right guard. The team’s offense hasn’t been overwhelmingly effective, as they’re averaging 433 yards per game which puts them 51st in the FBS. Jackson has done a great job of handling himself, though, and was flawless against a very talented LSU defensive line.
2014 Draft Projection: Late First/Early Second Round