2019 NFL Draft: Josh Jacobs isn’t your typical top RB

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 29: Josh Jacobs #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter during the College Football Playoff Semifinal against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 29: Josh Jacobs #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter during the College Football Playoff Semifinal against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Alabama RB Josh Jacobs is the top RB in this year’s NFL Draft, but there’s something to Jacobs that makes him different than the typical top RB.

School: Alabama

Year: Junior

Height: 5’10″

Weight: 216 lbs

During his time with Alabama, RB Josh Jacobs spent most of his time as a rotational player. He didn’t start many games with the Crimson Tide. Despite not being the starter for most of his time with the team, Jacobs made the most of the playing time he did receive.

In fact, he did so well with his limited playing time, he’s being considered the top RB in draft class full of RBs who have been the starters for several seasons. That’s impressive. Let’s take a look at what Jacobs has to offer an NFL team.


  • Size and strength

At 5’10”, Jacobs is a little bit shorter than the typical workhorse RB, but his frame is right where it needs to be. Just by looking at Jacobs, you can tell he’s got the body to punish defenders. NFL teams will love that about him. A workhorse RB needs to have the size to be able to consistently punish defenders, especially on runs inside the tackles.

The following video isn’t an inside run, but it’s a great example of how Jacobs’ size and strength will translate to the NFL. Just watch him punish the Auburn defender at the end of this play.

Jacobs is definitely not afraid of the contact. It actually seems like he welcomes it. The hits like the one you saw above are the kind of hits that will wear down defenders over the course of a game.

  • Balance

The following clip of Josh Jacobs is another great example of him welcoming contact.


Jacobs didn’t try to run around or go over the defender. Instead, he went straight into him. He delivered a big blow. Now go back and watch the clip again. This time notice how after delivering the blow, Jacobs is able to stay on his feet with no problem and walk into the end zone.

After making the contact, the hit from the Oklahoma defender did pretty much nothing to Jacobs. He wasn’t even close to losing his balance. His size and strength mixed with his incredible balance is what allows him to break so many tackles and pick up extra yards.

  • Versatility

One reason why Jacobs is different than the typical top RB in the NFL Draft, is because of his low stats. During his final season with Alabama, Jacobs only ran for 640 yards. Just because he didn’t put up great numbers, it doesn’t mean he’s not a great back. One reason why his numbers were lower is because of the RB rotation Alabama has. Fellow RB Damien Harris got the bulk of the carries.

Regardless of why his stats were low, people will look at his stats and wonder why he’s the top ranked RB in this draft class. Forget the low the numbers. Instead, let’s focus on how he contributes.

In addition to those 640 rushing yards, Jacobs recorded 247 yards receiving. Between rushing and receiving, Jacobs posted 14 total TDs for Alabama (11 rushing, three receiving). Jacobs isn’t just a RB who can hurt you by running the ball. He can also make you pay as a receiver out of the backfield.

The following clip of Jacobs is a different angle of the one we just watched above, only this time we’ll see that he made a catch on the play instead of being a runner. I know we’re talking about his receiving ability right now, but make sure you pay close attention to the hit at the end again.


Rushing and receiving aren’t the only ways Jacobs can beat you. He can also help out on special teams are a returner. Jacobs didn’t do much punt returning at Alabama, but in his last season with the team he totaled 428 yards and one TD on kick returns. If Jacobs is going to be the workhorse RB, I doubt the team that drafts him will want him doing kick returns, but it will be nice for them to know he has the ability to do so if needed.

  • Intense blocker

The blocking ability of Jacobs is by far my favorite thing about him. There are some good blocking RBs in the NFL, but I’m not sure there’s an RB who does it with more intensity than Jacobs.

To see what I mean, watch the following video clip. To see his blocking ability, skip to about 32 seconds, although I’d highly recommend watching the entire thing to get a better idea of just how good he is.


That block was something, wasn’t it? You just don’t see many RBs welcoming contact like that, especially when it’s taking on a block. I absolutely love how intense his blocking is.


  • Experience

This weakness is really what makes Jacobs so different from the typical top RB we see in an NFL Draft class. For starters, Jacobs wasn’t the starting the RB at Alabama for much of his time there. That’s a big reason why his stats don’t reflect those of the typical top RB in a draft.

When I say experience is a weakness for Jacobs, I’m talking about his lack of experience as a workhorse RB. Teams will like that Jacobs hasn’t taken the typical amount of hits RBs usually have when they enter the draft, but they’ll have to question whether or not Jacobs can handle being the full time workhorse RB.

  • Durability

My last point transitions really well into this weakness for Josh Jacobs. Jacobs has a little bit of an injury history. If you look back at his 2017 season, Jacobs carried the ball just 47 times. That’s because he suffered a broken ankle early in the season. He played through it, but he didn’t play much. He’s also been injured before that too, although that injury wasn’t anywhere near as bad.

Back to my point about Jacobs not having experience as a workhorse RB. If Jacobs has suffered a few injuries while splitting time, how long can he stay healthy if he’s getting the bulk of the carries? Remember, Jacobs loves contact. Contact takes a toll on defenders, but it can also take a toll on RBs throughout the course of a season.

  • Speed is good, but not great

If there’s one thing NFL teams want to see from their starting RB, it’s breakaway speed. While Jacobs is fast, he’s not that fast. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got enough speed to make his fair share of big plays. I’m just not sure if his speed will allow him to consistently run away from NFL defenders with elite speed.

Maybe I listed his speed as a weakness because it was hard to find something else??? He’s got the speed to play in the NFL, there are just other guys faster than he is.

Pro Comparison: Kareem Hunt

One reason for this comparison is because Hunt and Jacobs are almost the exact same build. Hunt is one inch taller than Jacobs, but their weight is the exact same. Both guys are bigger backs who can take contact and run through it.

Both guys are RBs who can hurt you in more ways than one. Hunt led the NFL in rushing his first season, but he also added 455 yards receiving that year. Jacobs might not lead the NFL in rushing as a rookie.

Actually, with Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball there’s like a 99% he won’t lead the league rushing. However, Jacobs can make an impact in multiple ways, just like Kareem Hunt.

When I’m comparing these two RBs, this has to do with their on field play, not their off the field issues. Jacobs doesn’t have off the field issues like Hunt, which will only help him in the NFL.

Best Team Fit: Kansas City Chiefs

Speaking of Kareem Hunt, he’s no longer a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. That means there’s a void for the Chiefs to fill on their offense, and I think Jacobs could fill that void perfectly.

Like Hunt, Jacobs could be an effective runner and receiver for this offense. However, the biggest reason why I think Jacobs fits with the Chiefs, is because he’d be asked to be part of the offense, not to be the entire offense.

With Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball the way he does, Jacobs won’t need to be the primary option for the offense. He’d make his fair share of contributions, but he wouldn’t have to be a guy like Ezekiel Elliott, who is about 90% of the Dallas offense.

This would allow Jacobs to get more experience as the primary back, where he can then take more responsibility and work down the road once he’s proven he can truly be the workhorse.

Projection: Mid-1st to early 2nd round