Rookie Spotlight: Josh Jacobs, Alabama
Height: 5’10’’ (official)
Weight: 220 lbs (official)
Hands: 10 1/8” (official)
Arm: 31 5/8” (official)
40 yard dash: 4.60 (Pro Day)
NFL Comparison: Sony Michel, Knowshon Moreno, Mark Ingram
– prototypical workhorse back
– strong hands
– runs with power
– extremely agile for size
– slow straight line speed
Scouting Notes: Jacobs may very well be the most complete back in the 2019 draft class – that has played against top-tier competition on a regular basis. He isn’t the fastest back, if his sluggish Pro Day 4.60 40 is any indication, but Jacobs is still somehow a combination of thunder and lightning in one back. Jacobs moves his 220 lbs with certainty and precision. His moves are efficient, and he rarely loses speed making lateral cuts. He can stop and start on a dime, so it adds a layer of elusiveness that often evades backs of his size. Jacobs can barrel through first contact, if he doesn’t move out of the way altogether, and sometimes relies too much on brute force, which is fine for now but won’t lengthen his career. That being said, Jacobs is adequately patient waiting for his blocks, and he’s got intricate footwork that gets him through traffic with relative ease.
Jacobs can catch the ball very well for a bigger back – 20 rec, 247 yards, 3 TDs in 2018, and that in part is due to his massive 10 ⅛ inch hands. In turn, he’s not very experienced as a pass-blocker, but he wasn’t asked to fill that role often at Alabama. When he did, he has been noted by people following the program and the coaching staff as having pass-protection as a big part of his game (see combine interview below). I have little doubt he’ll be able to to suss it out on the next level. Actually, there are few holes in Jacobs’ game overall – the most apparent being his lack of speed and limited burst at the second level. He’s not really a homerunner, but few workhorse backs are.
Fantasy Outlook: It’s the general consensus that Jacobs will be the first back taken in the draft. It was assumed Philly would take him the first round, but since they’ve added Jordan Howard to the roster, Jacobs may slide to early in the second. Either way, he needs to be added in all formats, as there’s a strong chance he’ll be a fantasy contributor from day one if he goes to a running back needy team. He can contribute in special teams in addition to being a 3-down back, so there really isn’t an excuse not to get him on the field early and often. He should be the first back taken in dynasty formats regardless of where he lands.
Quotes from the Combine:
RE: His strengths as a player
Catching the ball, blocking, running the ball, being on special teams—there’s a lot of things I can do.
RE: Did they have any pass plays for him out of a formation
We did. We actually had a lot of things out of that formation that we didn’t actually show. As far as looking for it, I don’t know how that will work in the league, but we’ll see how that goes.
RE: Will the NFL be a big adjustment
I don’t think it’s a big adjustment. You kind of do the same things you’re taught and basically just execute.
RE: Has he been getting advice from former Bama RBs like Mark Ingram?
I’ve been getting advice from a lot of them since last year. They’ve been coming to all out games, whether it’s Mark or Alvin (Kamara) or T.J. (Yeldon). Derrick comes back all the time, so just getting a lot of advice on a lot of off the field stuff and on the field stuff too.
RE: Is he promoting the fact that he doesn’t have a lot of tread on his tires?
I don’t really promote it. I just let the film speak for itself. I ain’t have a lot of carries or nothing like that, but if you look like the production I had when I was in the game, it kind of speaks for itself.
RE: Have teams been asking you about that?
Yeah, they mostly ask me am I okay with sharing carries. That’s where the new trend in the league is going toward. It’s not really just 1-back teams any more. So that’s more of what they ask me.
RE: Is he okay with sharing carries?
RE: Is there a game that stands out to you as maybe your resume game?
Definitely the Oklahoma game just because I felt like I couldn’t do no wrong. So definitely Oklahoma.
RE: (inaudible —something about playing with Lamar Jackson).
Oh yeah, Lamar is definitely tough. I mean just playing with a former Alabama players and players who make it easier for me to transition. I also have like my agent and stuff is from there. That would definitely be a good look.
RE: How much do you and (teammate) Damien (Harris) talk back and forth being maybe one of the top running backs or the fact that the two of you can go in the first two rounds.
We honestly don’t talk about “top,” but we definitely speak about how blessed we are to be here and how special it is that me and him finish together and that we could be possibly the first and second picks (at running back) so that’s definitely huge not only for us but for our schools.
RE: Difference between getting to play QB in the Wildcat and getting the ball as a runner from the QB.
You kind of are in charge of the offense. You’re basically the quarterback. The biggest difference I everyone knows 80% of the time its going to be a run, so they’re expecting a run. So just the thought of the top physicality you have to have before the ay knowing that they’re probably going to blitz is probably the biggest thing.
RE: His story about living in and out of hotels and his reflections on that and how far he’s come.
It’s humbling. definitely. I mean just the experiences I had n my life, just being here is a blessing. It’s cray how it plays out, so I mean out of all the honors I’ve had, my father for raising me the right way and instilling all the right things in me helped me get to this point.
RE: Panthers interested?
I’ve had formal meetings with them, and I’ve talked to their running back coach a lot.
RE: It was said you once said that you wanted more. Being on the stage he is on now and what it means to him.
I don’t know if it’s to be on this stage to want more. I want to be successful.
RE: Where does that mindset come from?
Just growing up. Going through all the things I’ve been through in my life, fighting adversity and everything like that kind of motivated me today.
RE: Relationship with Derrick (Henry).
He’s like a big brother. He makes a lot of jokes but his work ethic, when he comes back and works out with is different. So, it shows me the level of competition I need to be at, and he gives me great tips about life and even during a game when he sees me, like “you need to slow down on the run” or anything like that.
RE: Anything specific he’s told you?
Making the best out of everything in practice. He was one of the best practice players we ever had, so he was telling me just grind hard in practice.
RE: Who does he model his game after?
I kind of stole my game from a little bit of everyone honestly. Think back to Barry Sanders, LaDanian Tomlinson Reggie Bush—I try to take bits and pieces from everybody.
RE: Was there a benefit from not having many carries.
Definitely. I didn’t have any injuries this year. After games, I didn’t even have bruises or stuff like that. I felt crazy good so that helps the longevity of RBs all around the league, so I think that’s the wave.
RE: What’s (OT) Jonah Williams like
Jonah is special. I don’t think I’ve every seen a game where he’s messed up. He’s does everything he’s supposed to do. He’s just a solid all-around player. The dude is funny. He likes to make jokes. He’s also probably one of the best chefs I know, too.
RE: What was the last meal he cooked for you?
Last time I ate from him was Thanksgiving. He had a whole Thanksgiving special.
RE: Any thoughts on the Championship game?
It was two great teams. Clemson had a great team, we had a great team, and they were just better than us on that night. So, credit to him and their coaches.
RE: His blocking and did he always take pride in that?
Coming in as a freshman, Coach Burns used to get onto me the most about blocking. So that was probably the biggest thing I tried to improve on while I’ve been in college. So, I take pride in all of that, even special teams
An elusive back who was an offensive weapon … versatile athlete who also provided a threat on special teams … averaged 28.6 yards per kickoff return for his career (514 yards, 18 returns) to rank third in UA annals (minimum 15 returns) … selected as the Most Valuable Player of the SEC Championship Game … contributed in numerous ways as a junior, totaling 15 touchdowns (11 rushing, three receiving, one kickoff return) to rank eighth in the SEC and his 11 rushing scores tied for seventh in the league … wrapped up 2018 tied for the team lead in all-purpose yards with 1,315 to average 87.7 yards per game … ranked second on the Tide in scoring with 90 points … rushed 120 times for 640 yards and a team-high 11 scores while catching 20 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns … 50 of his rushes as a junior went for a first down or score while 14 of his reception led to a Tide touchdown or first down … added 14 kickoff returns for 428 yards with one score of 77 yards … his 30.6 yards per return average led the SEC and was second in the FBS, a big part of the Tide’s 23.5 average return on kickoffs that ranked 19th nationally … the 30.6 kickoff return average is second-best in Alabama single-season records (minimum 10 returns) … earned special teams player of the week honors from the UA coaches for his play against Louisville, Ole Miss and Missouri while earning offensive player of the week recognition for his performances against the Tigers on Homecoming and against Mississippi State and Auburn. Louisville: Totaled two touchdowns by night’s end to earn special teams player of the week accolades from the Tide coaching staff … rushed six times for 45 yards and a score … added a 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the first of his career. Arkansas State: Carried five times for 14 yards and added a career-high tying three receptions totaling 23 yards against the Red Wolves. Ole Miss: Excelled in his returner role once again, taking two kickoffs back for 101 yards with a long return of 74 to set up a Tide field goal … graded out at 100 percent on his kickoff coverage and kickoff return snaps to earn special teams player of the week honors from the Tide coaches … added six carries for 18 yards and a score while catching one pass totaling 18 more yards. Texas A&M: Contributed in the rushing and passing games against the Aggies … carried six times for 11 yards and his third score of the season in addition to one catch for a season-long 25-yard gain … also recorded his first tackle of the season on kickoff coverage. Louisiana: Rushed just six times but made them count, totaling 49 yards and a team-high two rushing touchdowns on the afternoon … carried from one- and nine-yards out for his two scores with three of his other four carries going for a UA first down. Arkansas: Carried five times for 10 yards and scored his sixth touchdown of the season … added a career-high three kickoff returns for 42 yards with a long of 20. Missouri: Named as one of the Tide coaching staff’s offensive and special teams players of the week for his standout performance against the Tigers … rushed nine times for 52 yards on offense to average a team-leading 5.8 yards per rush … also returned three kickoffs for 88 yards with a long gain of 50, nearly breaking the return for a score … finished his night with a season-high 140 all-purpose yards. Tennessee: Made the start at tailback and put together a standout performance … led all Alabama backs in rushing yards with 68 on 12 rushes and recorded a team-leading two rushing touchdowns … added one reception for two yards … also contributed three kickoff returns totaling 63 yards with a long of 42 yards coming on the first play of the game. LSU: Rushed four times for 17 yards while adding two receptions for 23 yards against the Tigers. Mississippi State: Totaled a career-high 20 carries for 97 yards and a touchdown to average 4.8 yards per tote … added two catches for 12 yards and the Tide’s lone touchdown reception of the day … earned offensive player of the week accolades from the Tide coaching staff for his efforts against State … also returned one kickoff for 27 yards to finish with 136 all-purpose yards against State. The Citadel: Carried twice for three yards against the Bulldogs … recorded a Tide first down with his lone reception of the day that totaled 15 yards. Auburn: Finished with 81 yards of total offense against the Tigers … rushed five times for 28 yards to average 5.6 yards per tote … added four catches for 53 yards and one score … selected as one of the UA coaching staff’s offensive players of the week for his output in the Iron Bowl. Georgia: Selected as the SEC Championship’s Most Valuable Player for his standout performance against the Bulldogs … led all Tide rushers with 86 yards and two touchdowns on only eight carries … averaged a game-high 10.4 yards per carry. Oklahoma: Accumulated 158 all-purpose yards in an impressive Orange Bowl performance against the Sooners … rushed a team-high 15 times for 98 yards, a total that also led UA … added four receptions for 60 yards with a 27-yard catch and score that saw him truck an OU defender to get to paydirt. Clemson: Contributed all over the field in the title game … rushed 11 times for 47 yards, collecting five first downs in the process … also caught one pass for a 16-yard gain and Tide first down … added one kickoff return for a 30-yard gain.