Cowboys Draft 2014: Scouting Gabe Jackson

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Because there has been such a high correlation in recent years between the top collegians invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits and who the Cowboys end up drafting, it's important to know as much as possible about these players. As a service to you BTB is providing a series of detailed scouting reports on each of these targets. Today the series continues with our look at Mississippi State guard, Gabe Jackson.

Name: Gabe Jackson

Position: Guard

School: Mississippi

Height: 6’ 3"

Weight: 336 LBs

Games Studied: Oklahoma State, LSU, Alabama

Measurables vs others at his position:

Note: This spider graph provides a visual representation of a players’ measurable traits, and combine results.  The filled in area of the chart, as well as the number in the light grey circle represents the percentile among the player's peers by position. A score of 85 here represents that out of every 100 players at his position, the player has a better result in that test than 85 of those 100.

Pass Game:

Gabe Jackson played left guard on the Mississippi State Bulldogs offensive line, and was a main cog in their scheme. He is a very large and strong man, with a heavy lower body, and just above average arm length.  When you look at him from a physical stand point, you would expect him to be able to slow down power rushers coming up the middle, and really solidify the front of the pocket in pass pro and that is what you get from Jackson.

He’s a good enough athlete to keep DTs from getting to his outside shoulder for the most part, and takes a pretty aggressive short pass set, allowing him to get his hands onto rushers quickly, which is where he wins. When he gets paws on you, your play is generally over, as he has enough lead in his pants to stone you if you try to come through the middle of him, and the strength to keep you in his grasps.

There were a few times in the thee games I studied that put questions in my head about his awareness and understanding of schemes, but without knowing the protection calls on the plays involved it’s impossible to say for sure if those questions are legitimate. Times like sliding outside taking the 2nd rusher to his side when the center slides to the opposite side, and the RB goes the opposite way in protection (generally you protect inside out, unless the protection call tells the RB he has a different responsibility) resulting in a free rusher up the middle to the QB.  For the most part he handles twist games just fine, but there were times (especially on the Tackle/End or "Texas" stunt) when he was either slow to recognize the twist, or slow to react, and had a hard time keeping a quicker DE from getting across his face.

Run Game:

Physically Jackson looks like he should be a people mover who really drives guys off the line of scrimmage and mauls people in the run game, unfortunately, in the three games I saw, he wasn’t ever a dominant run blocker. He was more of a stalemate shield blocker who used the same anchor he showed in pass protection to get his body in the way and turns his butt around to clear the space for the back to run behind him.

The Mississippi State run game featured a lot of Man/Iso blocks and very little true Zone Stretch running, and in this scheme Jackson excelled because of his ability to get his hands on a guy and turn him in the direction he needed him to face in order to clear the room for the back. I only recall seeing him get to the second level once on a LB in the scheme, and he went for a cut block on Alabama LB CJ Mosley, who sidestepped his way around the block.

Conclusion/Cowboys Projection:

When I watch Jackson play it’s difficult for me to project him into this Cowboys offense, particularly in the run game.  In the pass game I think he would be a powerful force who could work with center Travis Frederick to solidify the front of the pocket for Tony Romo, and who ever his successor is for years down the road, but I wonder if he’s a great fit for the Zone Scheme that this OLine, and DeMarco Murray had so much success with in the second half of the 2013 season. If he were drafted he would likely go into a competition with Ron Leary and Mackenzie Bernadeau  for a starting guard position, with the hope that he develops into a solid starter at least by year two if not by mid-season 2014.

Pro Comparison: Larry Warford, Guard, Detroit Lions (2013 3rd round pick)

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