Raiders beef up on both lines

Raiders beef up on both lines
May 10, 2014, 2:15 pm
Share This Post

OL Gabe Jackson is 6-foot-3 and 336 pounds; DL Justin Ellis stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 333 pounds. (USATSI)

ALAMEDA -- Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said he wanted to add size along the offensive and defensive lines.

He certainly did so in free agency, stacking the offensive side with big bodies. He added pass-rush ability on defense and retained 310-pound nose guard Pat Sims.

McKenzie continued that quest in the NFL draft, adding big bodies with back-to-back picks. He selected 334-pound Mississippi State offensive guard Gabe Jackson Friday night at No. 81 overall and then took 346-pound Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Justin Ellis on Saturday morning at No. 116.

Both picks are expected to make future impact, especially with veteran starters on short-term deals. It will maintain McKenzie’s preferred style of interior line play. He wants stout run stuffers on defense and big, strong guards to execute a blocking scheme based on creating gaps with power.

That’s why he went after a guy nicknamed “Jelly Bean.” Ellis is a big kid, with fluctuating weight that has reached 400 in the past. He’s at 346 now and hopes to play around 330, which would be optimal for someone charged with plugging gaps and stopping interior runs.

Weight issues can increase risk with draft picks, but Ellis doesn’t believe it will be of concern. He moved up draft boards with a solid pre-draft process, including a standout effort during East-West Shrine Game workouts.

“I gain weight easily but I also lose easily, too, so my weight fluctuates,” Ellis said. “At the same time, it’s been a grind, but it’s something that I can do. I haven’t lost control of it. But I have gained weight but I also lose it.”

Jackson should add real power on offense. He has solid durability and credentials despite his size. He started 52 straight games at Mississippi State and did not allow a sack over his last two seasons. The Raiders believe his talents will translate well into the offensive scheme.

“I think he could come in and play pretty early for anybody,” Raiders director of player personnel Joey Clinkscales said. “He’s a powerful, physical young man. When you’re building a guard, physically, that’s what they look like. Once he gets on the field and competes with the other guys, then we’ll see how that turns out. I am pretty confident that Gabe will come in and compete and be tough and be exactly what we expect him to be.”