Written By: Jason Feiner
Josh Jacobs: Running Back, Alabama
Weight: 216 lbs
Career Stats: 40 Games Played
Rushing Yards: 1491
Yards Per Rush: 5.9
Rushing Touchdowns: 16
Fumbles: 3 (2 lost)
Receiving yards: 571
Yards Per Reception: 11.9
Receiving Touchdowns: 5
Kickoff Return Touchdown: 1
Josh Jacobs is a powerful back who is not afraid to dominate defenders at the point of contact. His vision at the line allows him to utilize a vicious jump-cut, providing room to break into the crease and explode to the next level. Jacobs runs with excellent knee bend and pad level to consistently win in contact and barrel forward for extra yards. He possesses a strong lower body and the determination and balance to stay on his feet and turn out tough yards in a crowd. Possessing exceptional athleticism, quick feet and outstanding lateral agility, the Bama runner can frequently make the first defender miss in the backfield and break into open space while using his speed to turn around the corner and down the sideline. Jacobs’ vision and elite movement ability make him a nightmare to track down in each part of the field, and a menace to stop behind the line of scrimmage. Although he has the elusiveness to avoid contact, he relishes the opportunity to bully defenders and run through them with his pads. With his combined speed and playmaking ability, he is a threat to score with any opportunity.
Jacobs’ versatility and leadership will be highly coveted as the Alabama product makes the transition to the NFL turf. He is a natural leader with the will and work ethic to succeed. His versatility as a runner, pass catcher and willingness to produce on special teams will be a bonus for any team picking him. He is a superstar in the making with immense upside.
The Crimson Tide runner’s first round price tag is a little rich, as his career workload is nothing to praise. Throughout his tenure at Alabama he was terribly underutilized and ceded carries to a plethora of NFL draft prospects. He has had just one game of 20 carries in his career and averaged 6.2 attempts per game over the course of his playing time with the Crimson Tide. Without a sizeable workload, it is yet to be seen if Jacobs can handle a feature back role in the NFL. The power back accrued just one game of 100 yards in 40 career contests and was never named as the starting back in Bama’s offense. Injury risk is another deterrent. Jacob's has sustained numerous injuries throughout his career including multiple hamstring, and ankle damage, while requiring surgery to heal a broken bone at the end of his sophomore season. His football IQ will also be tested at the next level, as he was never tasked with running a full route tree and will need to perfect his ability in this area in order to be a reliable weapon on passing downs.
NFL Team Fits:
The Buccaneers have been in dire need of a running game. Since 2013 they have had just one 1000 yard rusher, and five in the last 18 years. Jameis Winston has struggled throughout his career with turnovers, and a consistent running game would reduce pressure and the burden of passing the ball. Bruce Arians will be looking for a strong back to take over as their leader and featured runner, and Josh Jacobs could come in right away and become their workhorse. Arians is a genius when it comes to offensive football, and he has been known to place his players in position to succeed. With Jacobs in the backfield, their offensive system would gain an immediate playmaker at the running back position. Although this selection would cast aside Ronald “Rojo” Jones, GM Jason Licht has been known to replace early round picks who may not have succeeded early on in their tenure.
The Raiders are in a rebuilding stage. Marshawn Lynch, turning 33 in April, has landed on IR twice over the past four seasons while taking a year off in between. The aging back can’t seem to stay healthy, and without him, they don’t have an answer in their backfield. I’m sorry Raider Nation, Doug Martin isn’t it, and the one-year deal Isaiah Crowell signed doesn’t get my hopes up. The Raiders will be looking to upgrade on the edge with the 4th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but will still hold the 24th and 27th overall picks in April, and Jacobs is likely to still be on the board. Jacobs running style matched with his leadership, work ethic and grit make him a great fit for a team in agony preparing for a move to another city. Although teams have had recent success with backfield by committee, there is no replacement for a dominant feature back to take the reigns, while keeping Lynch’s legs fresh for december. Jacobs power running style and aggressiveness in contact would fit nicely in silver and black.
With Mark Ingram now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, The Saints will be relying on Alvin Kamaras legs. He was highly dependable at the start of last season while Ingram faced a 4-game suspension, but proceeded to split carries once the power back returned to the lineup. With no backfield mate, It would not be surprising for the Saints to make a push for one of the top backs in the class in order to maximize the effectiveness of the cheat code that is Alvin Kamara, while providing relief to Drew Brees in the process. Josh Jacobs possesses a very similar running style to Mark Ingram and would be an immediate replacement for the former Heisman winner. Josh Jacobs is a ferocious runner with the power, agility and foot quickness to burst through the hole and acquire tough yards. He would be the perfect compliment to an already high powered offense.
The last team that is a true fit based on their current personnel and draft position is the Eagles. They haven’t had a true feature back since the days of Shady McCoy, failing to produce a 1,000 yard rusher since 2014. Over the past two years the Eagles have missed a featured back, and it really showed its head this past season with injuries, unspectacular play and just 92 rushing yards combined in their two playoff games. Philly recently made a splashy, low-risk trade for Jordan Howard, who has produced two 1000 yard efforts in his first three years in the league. However, he will become a free agent following the 2019 season and should not be looked at as a long term solution unless a new contract is struck. Jacobs is a true three-down back who can come in and play right away, providing highlight reel plays and leadership to their locker room. With Carson Wentz coming back into the limelight, they will need to do everything in their power to decrease his passing attempts and ultimately lower injury risk. If they can find a running game with the talent they already possess, their offense would figure to be lethal placing Wentz right back in the MVP category. After moving away from Josh Adams in the postseason, it is safe to say they are still looking for “their guy” to head the backfield.