Josh Jacobs (5’10”, 220) Running Back, Alabama
18.5 Aggregate Score (3.5 Star Prospect)
Josh Jacobs has risen to the top of a running back class that lacked a stud type of guy. Jacobs has had an interesting road but has risen to the top of the Alabama RB depth chart which means he certainly has NFL level talent. A smooth runner and a hands catcher, there is a lot to like in Jacobs physical and film profile. His stats remain a red flag, but there are many points that can explain the issues that many have there. Jacobs will remain polarizing until he is drafted in the first or second round of the NFL draft which seems to be the consensus on his value. A first round draft pedigree would make it hard to argue against Jacobs as the first running back off the board in your rookie drafts.
As I alluded to, Jacobs college production left something to be desired. With only 887 total yards in his junior season and only 640 of those on the ground, he didn’t show much to say he can be a workhorse. He never put up big numbers across an entire season. He didn’t even put up many hundred yard games. Was it due to scheme, competition, game script? It was most likely a combination of reasons, but it remains a valid concern especially since we didn’t see many big plays from him throughout his college career.
Speed & Agility: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)
Jacobs is plenty fast despite a 4.6 40 at his pro day. He looks significantly faster than that on tape and I am not concerned about his long speed as that is not what his game is predicated on. Jacobs running style is very smooth and his ability to make defenders miss in space is a plus trait as well.
Receiving Ability: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)
Jacobs caught well over 1 ball a game in college which is plenty to show his receiving chops in an Alabama offense that is historically run heavy. Even with Tua last year, Jacobs had to compete with Jerry Jeudy and a bevy of other talented pass catchers for those targets. He was also more efficient after the catch than he was on the ground.
Vision: Aggregate Score: 3.5 (Personal Score: 3)
I do not feel this is a major strength for Jacobs. Afforded a lot of big holes by one of the best offensive lines in the country and working in conjunction with the newly revitalized passing game that kept defenses as honest as they’ve had to be against Bama in 25 years or more, he still did not find a way to create high efficiency yardage with his touches.
Blocking: Aggregate Score: 3 (Personal Score: 3)
Not a strength of any lead backs game, but he can hold his own in pass protection. Will he succeed against NFL pass rushers? No. But he can chip and block in play action just fine.
Strength: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)
Jacobs isn’t the strongest back in this class, but he runs low and strong. He is more likely to hit you than to put forth a lot of effort to make you miss. He would rather go through than around. He does keep his balance well and can bounce off tacklers in the open and around the line of scrimmage.
Conclusion: Early to Mid 1st Round Pick
Jacobs is a talented player, there is no doubt about that. Whether he can be a three down workhorse at the NFL level is the question for me. Is Jacobs a high risk pick? No, especially not in a draft class with less running back talent than normal. My ideal landing spot for Jacobs though, would be somewhere with a veteran running back that can help take some of that load early in the season and really make way for him to shine down the stretch. He could be absolutely explosive in an Alvin Kamara-Mark Ingram type situation. Pre-draft he sits around the 1.07 or 1.08 for me. Landing spot could bring him into the top 3 or 4, but it is more likely I will be targeting him in the middle of the first.