Josh Jacobs Is The Best Running Back Prospect In This Class, And It Isn’t Particularly Close For Me.
This isn’t a great running back class, especially when measured against the classes from the last two years, but Josh Jacobs would have ranked favorably in both of those classes. Don’t let the lack of production fool you, Josh Jacobs in the real deal. He has the look of a complete, lead back in the NFL.
The Lions probably aren’t in the market for the top running back in the NFL Draft, but crazy things happen when the draft starts. Last year, Derrius Guice fell significantly. The year before, Dalvin Cook fell out of the first round. The Lions won’t likely be selecting a running back in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft but, if Josh Jacobs somehow falls out of the early rounds, he should definitely be a consideration for the Detroit Lions.
Similar to fellow Alabama running back prospect Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs has excellent vision and knows exactly where running lanes are going to develop before they open up. He’s a little more patient than Harris but doesn’t fall into lulls of indecisiveness that can plague other patient runners.
Josh Jacobs may be the most violent runner in this class. He isn’t just going to run through defenders and fall forward, he will take out defenders and stay on his feet. He invites contact when he needs to get tough yards and has good awareness of when he should be lowering his shoulder and when he needs to try and make a man miss.
Josh Jacobs’ balance through contact and leg drive are unreal. He is not going to go down with arm tackles. He isn’t going to go down if he isn’t wrapped up. Even when defenders wrap him up, his leg drive will often carry him forward for extra yards, and he has the leg strength to move the pile in traffic.
For a back of his demeanor and violence, he is surprisingly elusive. He has good lateral agility and shows explosiveness out of his cuts. He doesn’t just win with power, his lateral agility allows him to make people miss in the open field. His combination of power and elusiveness is unrivaled in this class, making him the best and most versatile pure runner.
He has good hands and should be more productive as a receiver in the NFL than he was in college. His lateral agility and explosiveness should translate well to a more varied set of routes at the next level. In pass protection, Josh Jacobs is every bit as physical as he is as a runner. He was used as a lead blocker on running plays and excelled in this area as well. His ability as a blocker should keep him on the field for passing downs, making him a true three-down back in the NFL.
Josh Jacobs didn’t test at the NFL combine, but I can’t imagine he would have disappointed. The only concern that I have with Josh Jacobs is his long speed. I don’t think he would have tested particularly well in the 40-yard dash, and I think that shows on tape. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed to be a true home-run threat and isn’t likely to outrun many defensive backs. That is my only concern. Others will be concerned by the lack of college production, but the tape shows an excellent, complete running back that can do it all.
In Detroit, he would be a luxury, but a luxury I would be happy to have. Kerryon Johnson and Josh Jacobs would immediately become one of the best running back duos in the NFL. It’s not likely, but stranger things have happened in the NFL Draft.