Josh Jacobs NFL Draft profile: Everything to know about pro day, measurements, strengths, team fits
Josh Jacobs is the best running back in this class but how high will he go?
Josh Jacobs runs angry. That's the most succinct -- and perhaps accurate -- description of his style. He's also has very low mileage, in running back terms, which makes him more attractive to NFL teams looking for a back who can block, catch passes coming out of the backfield, and, of course, carry the rock with purpose. And while Jacobs may be one of the best 32 players i this draft, is he worth a first-round pick? That's the question facing general managers, scouts and coaches around the league.
It's been running back-by-committee for each of Jacobs' three seasons at Alabama. He had just 85 rushing attempts for 567 yards (6.7 YPC) and four touchdowns during his freshman season in 2016. In 2017, Jacobs had 46 carries for 284 yards (6.2 YPC) and a touchdown though it was learned after the season that he had been playing with a broken ankle. The 2018 campaign was his best at Alabama; sharing the workload with Damien Harris and Najee Harris, Jacobs was second on the team with 120 carries, third with 640 rushing yards (5.3 YPC) but first with 11 rushing touchdowns.
Among all FBS running backs, Jacobs ranked seventh in Pro Football Focus' elusive rating and was third in their not-tackled-on-first-contact metric. Put another way: Jacobs runs angry.
Combine/pro day results
35 5/8 inches
10 1/8 inches
Here is Jacobs running the 40-yard dash at his pro day on March 18. He didn't participate at the NFL combine because he was recovering from a groin injury.
Strengths: Jacobs is a compactly built, one-cut-and-explodes type runner who excels at setting up blocks. He is difficult to bring down with initial contact (see PFF metric above) and his play speed affords him the ability to bounce runs outside -- though he doesn't force it. He runs hard, with purpose, is an efficient pass blocker, shows good hands as a receiver and can also return kicks. He's the best running back in this class, 4.60 40 time or not.
Weaknesses: Straight-line speed may be a concern to some teams that wanted to see Jacobs run faster at his pro day. Alabama teammate Damien Harris ran a 4.57 40 at the combine and he's similar in height and weight. But if you watch Jacobs play, he doesn't look slow (see him trucking that poor Oklahoma defender above), and again, he runs with purpose, has a wicked jump cut, and shows the speed on tape to get around the edge. He's also a four-down player, and while he may need to refine his routes of the backfield, he has soft hands and in the process adds another element to an offense. To reiterate, via the head of the Senior Bowl, former NFL scout Jim Nagy:
Ben Tate. The consensus top running back prospect in this class is my RB5. And the comparison doesn't seem too favorable. That's not my intention. Injuries ultimately derailed Tate's career, but he entered the league out of Auburn as a polished, explosive runner capable of putting his foot in the ground, accelerating through backside holes on zone runs and running through defenders. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry as a rookie with the Texans. That's the type of back I see when watching Jacobs. He's a no-nonsense ball-carrier who packs a punch, has plus vision, and can explode through the hole with dynamic leg drive.
NFL teams in play to draft Jacobs
Eagles: Philly has been one of the favorite mock-draft landing spot for Jacobs for months. They have the No. 25 pick and their current depth chart includes Corey Clement, Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood. But the Eagles have other needs too -- defensive back and offensive line among them -- and given the devaluation of running backs in recent years, there's a chance that not only do they pass on Jacobs at No. 25, but Jacobs falls out of the first round altogether.
"I don't know how it will continue in the future, but I do know the importance of running backs," Jacobs said at the combine. "Running backs literally do everything on the field but throw the ball. So, I know the game tried to kind of take it away from using them as much as it used to, but they're using them a lot just in different ways."
Bills: Buffalo won't take Jacobs at No. 9 -- even though there's been some mention of Jacobs being a top-10 talent -- but if he's on the board in Round 2, the Bills could be interested. LeSean McCoy is 30, Chris Ivory is 31, and the team is trying to surround Josh Allen with playmakers.
Texans: Houston desperately needs offensive linemen to protect Deshaun Watson, who was sacked a whopping 62 times last season. But they also need running backs. Jacobs could be a consideration at No. 23 -- just before the Eagles are on the clock. They could also address the position in Round 2, where they have two picks (No. 54 and No. 55), though Jacobs may be off the board by then.
Raiders: Oakland has three first-round picks and a second-rounder. They'll obviously need to address the defense at No. 4 -- either edge rusher or defensive line -- but could target Jacobs at No. 24 or No. 27. And even if they target other positions (cornerback and tight end for example), they could find Jacobs on the board when they're back on the clock with pick No. 35. Imagine a Raiders offense featuring Derek Carr, Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and draft picks like Noah Fant and Jacobs.
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