Amongst the former Clemson players that the Las Vegas Raiders drafted was John Simpson. What does this mean for the offensive line moving forward?
Under offensive line coach Tom Cable last year, the Raiders had one of their best seasons as a unit, which meant drafting for the line wasn’t a priority. At least to the untrained eye, it might’ve seemed that way. Thankfully general manager Mike Mayock knows better. Age and injuries can easily decimate an offensive line and the Raiders wouldn’t be an exception. Another factor that played into Simpson’s selection is the future of guard Gabe Jackson with the organization.
Recently, Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote about the Raiders drafting Simpson last weekend. In particular, he highlighted that this decision gives the Silver and Black some flexibility:
“The Raiders traded up in the fourth round to reel in Simpson with the 109th pick, and his addition gives them flexibility in how they manage their much improved offensive line. Specifically, it gives them options on what to do with veteran right guard Gabe Jackson, who is owed $9.6 million annually through 2022.”
What Does This Mean For Now?
The offensive line is certainly a strength at the moment, but Richie Incognito is getting up there in age and the uncertainty with Jackson doesn’t help. Guard turned out to be a need after all, not worthy of a first-round selection but in need of addressing nonetheless. The current pandemic and the restrictions that it brings has altered how offseason programs will be conducted. For Simpson, this means it’s unlikely he’d be ready to start out of the gate. Regarding Jackson, Mayock pointed out “he’s our starting right guard,” and later added that “we signed Kush and we signed Devey, but both those guys can play all three interior positions. They’re inside guys and I think Gabe Jackson is our starting right guard.”
For now, Jackson’s job is safe. It wouldn’t make sense for the Raiders to pay his salary only to have Simpson starting. At the moment, Mayock simply gave himself an “out” if he finds a suitor for Jackson or if something were to happen injury-wise.
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*Top Photo: Credit: 247Sports