New York Jets 2019 NFL Draft Profile: RB Josh Jacobs
Ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, check out our profile on Alabama running back Josh Jacobs looking at his strengths, weaknesses, and New York Jets prediction.
In a relatively thin running back class, Alabama’s Josh Jacobs stands out as perhaps the most talented of the bunch. As such, it’s expected that he will be the first running back taken in this year’s 2019 NFL Draft.
Jacobs originally committed to Alabama as a three-star recruit out of McLain High School in Tusla, Oklahoma. The future SEC star initially garnered very little interest from top schools only drawing offers from Division II programs and small FBS schools such as Wyoming and New Mexico State. But by January of 2016, Jacobs had received offers from schools such as of Missouri, Oklahoma, and of course Alabama.
Still, Jacobs struggled to crack the backfield rotation with the Crimson Tide sitting behind highly-touted recruits such as Damien Harris, Najee Harris, and Bo Scarborough. It wasn’t until 2018, his junior season, that Jacobs finally saw increased playing time.
The 21-year-old was given 120 carries and he turned that into 640 yards and 11 touchdowns. While he still didn’t receive the lead role in the backfield until late in the season, his uptick in usage led to a career-best season.
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Jacobs has a good chance to be a top 20 pick come April but for now, let’s take a look at his strengths and weaknesses as a player.
Jacobs is an all-purpose back who has a good chance of being a true bell-cow running back in the pros. Although he was never given a feature back role while at Alabama, his skill set is ideal for what teams look for in a running back they’d give 15+ carries to a game.
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At 5-foot-9 and 209 pounds, Jacobs is a stout, physical runner who runs with power and finishes each of his touches. Jacobs has incredible balance and has the ability to run through contact regularly.
Perhaps the trait most endearing when watching his tape is his impeccable vision and patience. Jacobs’ uncanny ability to not only find open running lanes, but burst through them almost as soon as he touches the ball gives him sky-high potential at the next level. Essentially, he knows when to be patient but also knows when to accelerate and hit the hole.
On top of that, Jacobs is also a very capable receiver showing soft hands and good tracking ability. That combined with his excellent pass blocking ability make him a true three-down running back in any offense.
As a prospect, the constant knock against Jacobs has been his lack of production and experience while at Alabama. Jacobs was regularly the third option in a loaded Alabama backfield and couldn’t reach the top of the depth chart until late in his junior season. Some believe this is a cause for concern given his lack of true starting reps.
Elsewhere, Jacobs suffered through a few nagging injuries while at Alabama which partially contributed to his lack of early playing time. Jacobs played through a broken ankle during the 2017 season and the former high school standout was also limited at the 2019 NFL Combine due to a groin injury. It isn’t the biggest concern, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
The only true criticism of his game is his lack of elite speed. Jacobs is far from a burner and doesn’t always have the burst to break long runs for scores. While his intelligence and vision as a runner have carried him so far, it’s fair to wonder if his lack of straight-line speed could cap his ceiling in the NFL.
NEW YORK JETS PREDICTION
Although Jacobs is a top 15 talent on paper, it’s unlikely that the New York Jets will look to take him with their first-round selection. Despite the obvious need at the position, it would be hard to justify drafting a running back in the first round with the litany of other needs the Jets have.
That being said, Jacobs will almost certainly be the first running back taken in the 2019 NFL Draft and it’s likely he goes somewhere in the top 20. Teams looking for a running back in the first round could do much worse than Jacobs and some projections have him going as high as the fifth pick.
A team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is desperately in need of a running back and while it would be a surprise to see him go that high, you never know what could happen come late April. More likely landing spots include teams like the Green Bay Packers, Oakland Raiders (with their later first-round picks), and Kansas City Chiefs.
Whichever team lands him should expect a top-tier talent ready to receive substantial playing time from day one.