Name: Josh Jacobs
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Oakland Raiders
College Team: Alabama Crimson Tide
Draft Status: Round one, 24th overall
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- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 220 pounds
- Arms: 31 5/8”
- Hands: 10 1/8”
- 40-yard dash: 4.60 *Pro Day
- Three-down versatility
- Very hard runner
- 5.9 yards per carry over his career
- Jet sweep potential
- Contact balance
- Strength (bench press = 405 pounds, squat = 500 pounds as a sophomore)
- Lacks elite speed
- Pass protection is not ideal
The idea of an SEC running back who has played in 40 games with only 251 career carries is unheard of. However, Alabama does things differently than most because of their insane depth. Jacobs proved as a true freshman that he belonged at the top of the depth chart by averaging 6.7 yards per carry. Fellow Tide running back Damien Harris had similar usage in 2018, but Jacobs had 15 touchdowns to Harris’ 9. The NFL seems to agree as well that Jacobs was the superior back by allowing Harris to be drafted a full two rounds later.
In Oakland, Jacobs will find himself atop the depth chart on day one. There are a few names of note already there, including Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, and Chris Warren. This would seem to create a running back by committee; however, Jon Gruden loves to use a workhorse back. Jacobs will be the main man, with recently-acquired Martin the handcuff, Richard on long passing downs, and Warren the occasion short yardage banger.
The fact that Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden were comfortable taking a running back at the 24th pick and not waiting until the 27th should tell everyone how much they value him. There is zero threat to his workload and could be a 300-plus touch player in year one.
Oakland finished 27th in the NFL with 1,628 rushing yards but 2019 will be vastly different. The addition of Trent Brown (the giant left tackle from the Patriots) and Foster Moreau (one of the best blocking tight ends in the draft) will change the game upfront dramatically. The drama that Antonio Brown brings to an organization will quickly be worth it when Oakland no longer will have to face an eight-man box on running downs.
Even if you take the light side of projections for Jacobs, 250 carries and 20 receptions seem beyond reasonable. The two lowest-ranked fantasy players who reached that volume in 2018 were Adrian Peterson and Jordan Howard, who finished as the number 19 and 20 running backs in PPR. If a low-end RB2 in fantasy is Jacobs’ floor, then his ceiling has to be a low-end RB1.
The fact that Gruden still has nine years left on his contract helps make Jacobs an easy buy because Gruden loves “his guys” to a fault. To make things even better, Jacobs will not turn 22 years old until the 2019 NFL season is finished. Finally, the fact he was used in a committee in college gives him the trifecta of long-term stability.
NFL PLAYER COMPARISON
The measurables make Jacobs almost identical to Kareem Hunt, but Jacobs is not as explosive or shifty on film. In the run game, I liken him to Jay Ajayi but he is far superior to Ajayi in the passing game.
PROJECTED ROOKIE DRAFT RANGE
Before the NFL Draft, Josh Jacobs was going with the 1.05 pick in rookie drafts. The combination of draft capital and landing spot should vault him all the way to the top before everything is said in done. The 1.02 rookie pick should be his floor and he might only fall there if the team with the 1.01 is wide receiver-needy.
Projected Startup Draft Range
Any 21-year-old running back who is guaranteed the lead spot with a possibility of a workhorse role should go in the top three rounds. As of now, Jacobs ADP is 57th overall and RB21 and those numbers have already started to rise. RB16 and 34th overall is much more fitting with his high floor and high ceiling.
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