Learn the Name: Josh Jacobs
Learn the Name: Josh Jacobs
Josh Jacobs is one of the most interesting names at running back in this year’s draft. A player that vaulted up many draft boards, Jacobs offers a well-rounded skill set. Shockingly mocked as high as fifth overall by NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, no running back has more momentum heading into next months combine. Jacobs is a curious case to be sure. Jacobs saw only eight carries per game and 21 percent of his teams carries but still managed to lead the backfield in both rushing and receiving touchdowns, finishing up with 11 and three respectively. He was not even the most talented running back on the roster, and, depending who you ask, may not even be the most talented draft-eligible running back from Alabama. So why is a back that was not even dominant enough to lead his own team in touches getting so much hype? We will attempt to answer that.
Why the hype?
Dynasty owners who rely on numbers over tape are bound to be a little confused as to why Jacobs has become so highly regarded. The first and simplest answer is Rodney Anderson. The Heisman shortlisted running back was injured early in the season leaving a huge void for someone to fill as the top draft-eligible running back. Anderson would likely be the top back in this class if he made it through the season healthy. With that said Jacobs still leads one of the deepest running back crops in recent memory on many draft boards. Jacobs offers prototypical size unlike small school backs Darrell Henderson and Devin Singletary. While his teammate Damien Harris was the lead back at Alabama, it is Jacobs who appears to have the more well-rounded set of tools to be a true feature back. Jacobs looks like the more explosive, exciting player on tape, a notion that is supported by the draft community. And of course, as is often the case, Alabama players often get more hype than they sometimes deserve.
Jacobs is very talented running back that shines when he gets in the game. He is a hard-hitting, decisive power back with a good base. Jacobs pairs his good vision with good cutting ability and is a player who is determined not to go down at first contact. Heading into his final two games PFF charted him with 28 missed tackles forced on just 95 attempts. Jacobs has the ability to both power through would be defenders as well as to make them miss in space. Over the same time period, Jacobs saw 388 of his 500 yards after contact. Jacobs has very good contact balance which he uses to fight for extra yardage on every single carry. Jacobs consistently runs hard and could be said to have scatback skills with a power backs body and mentality. He arguably offers the best combination of speed, power, and elusiveness in the draft.
Wasn’t planning to put together a thread but Josh Jacobs has really gotten me excited. Had some help from his O-Line, but love how he keeps fighting and keeps his feet moving pic.twitter.com/a1JbwuSSIx
— Mike C (@FF_MikeC) January 15, 2019
This is a facet of his game where Jacobs truly shines. When I first watched tape of Alabama I immediately thought ‘this Jacobs guy looks elite in the open-field’. With excellent hands and return game skills to put on display in space, Jacobs could become a PPR dynamo at the next level. While he needs some polish, Jacobs is a solid effort blocker and just needs to refine his technique. Jacobs is a plus asset in pass protection and should see the field early in his career regardless of where he lands. Jacobs put up 20 receptions and 247 yards in his final season despite being a three-way timeshare. Capable of winning downfield Jacobs could become an explosive high-end RB2 if he lands on the right team. Jacobs has fifty plus reception upside in the NFL if he lands a feature back role.
Another Josh Jacobs highlight pic.twitter.com/6htNP3P49c
— JC Cornell (@TheJCCornell) January 23, 2019
Finding a pro comparison for Josh Jacobs was a difficult process. I first landed on MJD and LeSean McCoy before pivoting to Chris Carson. While Jacobs does look like LeSean McCoy once he leaves the backfield, he does not have the elite patience McCoy possesses. Chris Carson was a consideration but that had more to do with the consistent effort both backs display to finish all of their runs. Maurice Jones-Drew is who Jacobs is most similar to stylistically, from being hard nosed power runners who finish their runs, to being good receivers who are able to utilize their return game skills once they get into space. Jacobs has more prototypical size for an NFL feature back and could get his chance earlier than MJD did. MJD is a lofty comparison for a back with such a limited college workload. Both failed to top 200 carries in any of their college seasons.
MJD: 5.2 YPC, 18.5 rushes/touchdown, 9.14 receptions/touchdown.
Jacobs: 5.9 YPC, 15.6 rushes/touchdown, 9.6 receptions/touchdown.
Both backs had similar college numbers in terms of efficiency. MJD saw a larger workload in the pass game but found the end-zone at a slightly lower rate. He also saw a larger workload on the ground where he needed three more carries per touchdown.
Projecting a prospect before knowing his combine results or landing spot can prove to be difficult. According to 24/7 Sports Jacobs ran a 4.40 40 yard dash as a college recruit. If Jacobs can time this fast he could push his way into the first round mix. If he runs a 4.50 40 as he did at Alabama in 2017 he may end up at the top of round two. Jacobs will likely post a top burst score as he shows good explosion on film. Jacobs could become an instant RB2 in dynasty leagues if he finds himself a good landing spot. If Jacobs manages to land on a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers like Daniel Jeremiah mocked he could push for RB1 consideration.
Josh Jacobs is one of the most interesting names at running back in the 2019 NFL draft. And the hype may be warranted.