On the field, Gabe Jackson is ferocious. The Raiders offensive lineman has become a rising NFL star in his first two NFL seasons and one of the talented building blocks drafted by general manager Reggie McKenzie. He’s been terrific as both a run blocker and pass protector, and the analytics website Pro Football Focus selected Oakland’s left guard as one of its top 10 breakout players of 2015.
But as it stands now, left guard is in Jackson’s past. When the Raiders take the field for their 2016 opener, Jackson apparently will be at right guard.
After signing free-agent Kelechi Osemele this offseason, it appears the Raiders will keep him at left guard – where he starred with the Baltimore Ravens – and move Jackson to the right side.
And Jackson – as ferocious as he is while blocking – has taken the switch with a mild-mannered, team-first attitude.
“It’s a learning process and there are growing pains, but it’s also fun, too,” Jackson told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group this week following the latest session of the team’s organized team activities (OTAs). “This is a good time of the year to do it. You can’t overthink it. You’ve just got to be a football player.”
Jackson said he’s willing to move because Osemele is such a great addition and will make the entire offensive line better. That’s also the thinking of Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio.
“From our standpoint we’re looking for the best combination (and) we feel he’s got the power you really covet for a right guard,” Del Rio told the media. “Both are really talented and the decision we made was to try it that way first. I’ve seen nothing to suggest anything other than he’s going to be fine doing that and that we’ll be a much stronger unit and we’ll end up being very stout.”