Gabe Jackson Needs to Show Raiders Made Right Decision

The Las Vegas Raiders drafted Gabe Jackson in 2014 thinking he would become a cornerstone offensive guard. They trusted him so much that they gave him a five-year contract extension in 2017. After six seasons with the franchise though, he has failed to display elite offensive line skills.

Jackson joined the Raiders in the same draft class as quarterback Derek Carr. They are currently the only remaining alumni from that year and both are expected to take on key roles in 2020. Nevertheless, the Silver and Black have flirted with the idea of moving on.

This past offseason, the Raiders were shopping Carr in the NFL Scouting Combine. They also offered Jackson before the draft but didn’t receive an offer to their liking. In the end, they are still part of the team and that won’t change at least in 2020. Still, they need to show keeping them was the right decision.

Gabe Jackson has to justify his salary

The Raiders gave Jackson a new deal projecting he would become a top echelon guard. That hasn’t happened yet and he’s running out of time to show he’s capable of doing it. Even though Jackson seems safe for the moment, the Raiders can cut him after this season without a cap hit. This year, the guard will earn $9.35 million. He can get the same amount in 2021 if he stays with the team.

The Raiders currently have options in case Jackson doesn’t fill this year’s expectations. Last season, Denzelle Good played when he saw the field in 2019 and re-signed with the team earlier this year. Also, the Silver and Black drafted John Simpson out of Clemson. Although he won’t likely see playing time right out of the gate, the team can give him a look in case Jackson falters.

Related: Rodney Hudson Ranked No. 1 by Touchdown Wire

What does the data show about Gabe Jackson?

While tackle Trent Brown played at a Pro Bowl level and Kolton Miller displayed improvement, Jackson seems to have grown stagnant after being solid in previous years. So far, he hasn’t gotten any accolades at the Pro level and the 2019 season wasn’t his best per Pro Football Focus.

At right guard, Gabe Jackson is coming off the lowest grade of his career at 61.8 — his 53.6 grade as a run blocker ranked 59th among guards. Jackson has always been a solid pass protector, and he had graded above 72.0 in three of his previous four seasons.

On the other hand, the advanced statistics site believes Jackson can bounce back. If he does, the Raiders offensive line will be a top-echelon unit.

A return to form for Jackson, combined with another step forward from Miller, should have the Raiders back in the top 10 among the league’s offensive lines.

It’s up to Jackson to show the Raiders are a better team with him at guard. He can prove the team right with stellar play on the field this upcoming season.

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Top Photo: Tony Avelar/Associated Press

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