2019 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Josh Jacobs

  • Josh Jacobs, 5-10/220

  • Running Back

  • Alabama

  • Josh Jacobs Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Impactful feature back
  • Instinctive, natural runner
  • Downhill runner
  • Receiving ability
  • Soft hands
  • Tough to tackle
  • Picks up yards after contact
  • Excellent body lean to run low
  • Runs behind pads
  • Bends at the knee
  • Keeps feet going after contact
  • Has a second gear in the open field
  • Fast to the hole
  • Play-maker
  • Good vision
  • Wears down defenses
  • Impressive lateral quickness
  • Decisive runner
  • Capable of game-changing plays
  • Runs well in the second half
  • Skilled short-yardage back
  • Can change the complexion of an offense as a play-making runner
  • Special teams ability
  • Athletic upside

  • Weaknesses:
  • Never was the feature back at Alabama
  • Never handled a big work load as the feature back
  • Not very elusive in the open field

  • Summary: Alabama has been churning out a steady stream of NFL running backs under Nick Saban, and Jacobs is the top running back prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft despite never being a starter for the Crimson Tide. He backed up Damien Harris yet still managed to impress pro evaluators.

    In 2016 as a freshman, Jacobs averaged 6.6 yards per carry for 564 yards and four touchdowns. That season as well as in his sophomore campaign, he caught 14 passes out of the backfield. In 2018. Jacobs only carried the ball 120 times, but turned that into 640 yards – 5.3 average – with 11 touchdowns. He also had 20 receptions for 247 yards and three scores. With Harris leaving for the NFL, Jacobs could have returned to Alabama, but he wisely entered the 2019 NFL Draft, for which he is the top running back prospect, and is also coming into the league with very little wear-and-tear. Jacobs took only 252 carries over his three-year collegiate career.

    For the NFL, Jacobs is a hard-charging power runner with a strong build and a first-step burst to hit the hole before it closes. He then displays another gear to get to the secondary and is tough for defensive backs to tackle as he typically delivers the blow with ferocity. Jacobs runs angry and displays an intimidating style. With his size and speed, he could be a devastating one-cut downhill running back. He is not very elusive, as he is more of a downhill runner who will run through contact rather than try to juke defenders in the open field.

    In the passing game, Jacobs is well suited for the current NFL. He runs good routes and has soft hands. Jacobs is a real threat in the passing game, ripping off yards in chunks. As a receiver, Jacobs shows a surprising ability to adjust to the ball. With his speed and power, he is a mismatch weapon in the passing game because linebackers will have a very difficult time running with him and defensive backs are going to be hard pressed to tackle him.

    For added value, Jacobs has returning experience on special teams. Thus even if he struggles to adjust to his NFL playbook early in his career, he could contribute as a rotational back and special teams player. With his size, power, speed and running and receiving abilities, Jacobs looks like he could be an impactful three-down starter quickly in the NFL. Jacobs has serious athletic upside, and it would not surprise this analyst if he is a Pro Bowler early in his career. During the 2019 NFL Draft, Jacobs is worthy of being a pick in the back half of the first round, and he should be selected quickly if he makes it to the second round.

    Player Comparison: Ronnie Brown. Jacobs’ running style and versatility remind me of Brown. Both have quickness, power, a thick build, and receiving ability. Brown was a first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, and Jacobs is a likely first-rounder this year.

    NFL Matches: Miami, Houston, Oakland, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Washington

    There are a few teams that could consider taking Jacobs late in the first round or early in the second round during the 2019 NFL Draft. Perhaps the highest that Jacobs could hope to go would be to Miami, which needs to replace Frank Gore. Going 13th overall, however, is high, so Jacobs is probably more of a candidate for the Dolphins if he were to slide to the second round.

    The Texans need to upgrade their running back talent, and Jacobs would be a really good value for Houston at pick No. 23.

    Oakland has two picks in the 20s and one high second-round pick, so there are three potential selections that could be used on Jacobs. The Raiders need a running back of the future, and Jacobs would be a good scheme fit for Jon Gruden.

    The Eagles need a No. 1 running back, and Jacobs would be a good scheme fit for them. He also would provide nice bang for the buck at pick No. 25.

    At the end of the first round, Jacobs could be in play for Kansas City, which needs a replacement for Kareem Hunt.

    In the second round, one option could be Tampa Bay. The Bucs drafted Ronald Jones in the second round last year, but he had a disappointing rookie season and Bruce Arians may want a different type of back. Still, it seems unlikely that Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht would be ready to give up on Jones.

    It is hard to see Jacobs getting to the Redskins’ second-round pick or them passing on him. They need running back help with Adrian Peterson heading to free agency and Derrius Guice coming off a serious injury.


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