The Oakland Raiders quietly put together one of the best offseasons in the entire NFL behind the league’s most salary cap space entering the 2014 offseason. No, the team did not make many “flashy” moves, but they did make some very smart investments on players who fit their style and what they are looking for in all three facets of the game.
One of the better moves Oakland made this offseason was drafting guard Gabe Jackson in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Jackson is by no means an athlete at the guard position, coming in at 6-foot-3, 336-pounds, but he does possess elite strength. He put his strength to the test at the NFL Combine in this past winter, bench pressing 225 pounds a very respectable 30 times.
Jackson brings elite pass protection ability, which is evident by not surrendering a single sack during his final two seasons at the collegiate level. He is quick-footed and is quite explosive out of his stance, which allows him to punch defenders and knock them off balance early. His thick build also allows him to excel as a run blocker. Jackson is very strong at the point of attack and is very good at walling off defenders to create running lanes for his running back.
Jackson will need to get himself into better shape, however. He tends to slow down as the game progresses and is not very agile. He will need to work on his technique as a pass and run blocker as well as his flexibility to get lower to become a much more powerful player overall.
Due to his stocky build and strength, Jackson is a classic fit for Oakland as their starting left guard. Jackson will likely be competing with longtime Oakland offensive lineman, Khalif Barnes, for the starting left guard position. While Barnes certainly has the upper hand in terms of experience, Jackson should be thrust into action due to his upside and potential as a long-term solution along the Oakland offensive line.