With the 24th overall pick, the Raiders grabbed Alabama running back Josh Jacobs and that is exactly what Oakland’s rushing attack needed.
Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has had his eye on the Crimson Tide back for a long time and when diving into what Jacobs offers on the field, it isn’t hard to see why.
With Jacobs carrying the rock, Oakland fans will be treated to a display of hard-nosed running. He carries a vicious demeanour to his game, frequently cracking through the line and dragging piles to the sticks. Jacobs possesses the strength to shrug off arm tackles and combined with his balance through contact, he must be wrapped up to be brought down. He also plays with great leverage that emphasizes his power, meeting hits low to the ground and driving behind his pads. It’s rare that Jacobs isn’t the one initiating contact in his runs and when he lines up some poor defensive back, it’s nothing short of assault.
Jacobs doesn’t cut up defenses with only power as he can blend his strength with intelligence and elusiveness. He is quick to read his blocks and sets up the second level nicely with sharp cuts to get downhill. Jacobs has also shown patience in his running and allows defenders to beat themselves, which leads to shedding tackles too early and opening lanes for Jacobs. When busting runs into the secondary, his balance is again put on full display as he routinely shifts gears and directions to make people miss.
Fluid hips allow Jacobs to carry momentum through his changes of direction, and despite not posting a blistering 40 time, he moves with deceptive speed akin to Saints star running back Alvin Kamara. Jacobs’ lower body control and low to the ground running also lets him be explosive while moving laterally. Sorting between the tackles and getting skinny in the hole isn’t a problem as can be seen below.
This ability to lean and slide in a flash can embarrass those with the job of pulling him down.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has been vocal in his pursuit of a do-it-all back and he now has one in Jacobs. Jacobs is a weapon in the passing game and with safe hands and clean routes, he provides a comfortable option for quarterback Derek Carr in an offense featuring star power in wide receivers Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams. A piece like Josh Jacobs could be the key to fully releasing those athletes and unlocking Gruden’s offense.
Something Carr appreciated in running back Marshawn Lynch was his blocking ability, being able to pick up blitzes and stop the passer from taking hits in the pocket. Carr will also appreciate Jacobs, who would bang as a blocker for both his quarterback and fellow running backs at Alabama. Jacobs’ domination in this area speaks volumes of his character and winning mentality, something that would have had Gruden drooling when watching his tape. The way Jacobs stands after obliterating Clemson’d EDGE displays just how he intends to impose his will on the defense every play. The black hole will be happy to welcome this nasty mentality.
Jacobs brings youth and versatility to a running backs core that was in desperate need of it. Being something of a late bloomer for the Crimson Tide, Jacobs comes into the NFL as fresh as possible and at only 21 years old, he has a lot of room to grow and mould into the multi-dimensional weapon Gruden desires. Jacobs wasn’t used as a workhorse in his collegiate career, but being a top special teams player in addition to his contribution to the offense indicates he can manage the work load. It’s likely Jacobs will be eased into this role as a Raider, but as he said, “I’ve been preparing my body for the last three years, I’m definitely ready to step into that role.”