One of the most polarizing running back prospects in this year’s draft is former Alabama standout, Josh Jacobs.

He’s a polarizing prospect because everything on tape demonstrates that he could be an elite NFL running back, but the production at Alabama is not there to back up that claim. In addition to the lack of production, his testing at his pro day (he was recovering from an injury at the combine and therefore did not participate) left people wondering if he is the type of athlete that shows up on tape.

While the production and testing numbers may not suggest that he can be a workhorse back at the next level, Josh Jacobs is someone to watch entering this year’s NFL Draft and could be worthy of a very high rookie Dynasty selection.

NFL Pro Day Workout Overview
Height/Weight 40 Yard Dash Bench Press Broad Jump Vertical Jump
5'10"/220 Pounds 4.60 Seconds 18 Reps 108 Inches 35 Inches

As previously mentioned, Jacobs was unable to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine due to a groin injury. But at Alabama’s pro day he was able to participate in all of the workouts and put up decent numbers across the board. None of these numbers dictate a top-5 overall selection in the NFL Draft, but many people have chosen to overreact to these numbers…particularly his 40-yard dash.

While 4.60 (unofficial) is certainly not something you would like to see from a running back receiving as high of praise as Jacobs, it’s worth noting the decreased importance of this number for the position. Running backs are not going to be running straight for 40 yards often. They are required to have short-area quickness and burst to accelerate and decelerate in between defenders, which Jacobs has demonstrated he has on tape.

Jacobs’ ability to plant his foot in the ground and accelerate from 0-60mph is mesmerizing. Again, everything on tape dictates that he can have a major impact at the next level, but it’s his college production (or lack thereof) that has the fantasy community divided.

College Production
Year Rushing Yards Yard Per Carry Average Rushing TDs Receptions/Receiving Yards Receiving TDs
2016 567 6.7 4 14/156 0
2017 284 6.2 1 14/168 2
2018 640 5.3 11 20/247 3

These are the numbers that terrify fantasy owners. In one of the best offenses in college football, Jacobs never received more than 120 carries in a season. While some may make the argument that Jacobs’ talent should’ve demanded more playing time and touches, Jacobs was entrenched in a backfield with other dominant running backs. Damien Harris, Najee Harris, and Brian Robinson, Jr. all saw significant workloads as well. Head coach Nick Saban had the desire to spread the ball around evenly among his running backs, therefore not generating the number of carries that Jacobs’ talent may have deserved.

There’s an easy comparison though to make for the lack of college production and that translates to NFL success…in 2017, the New Orleans Saints selected a running back who had never received more than 107 carries in a season during his college career. That rookie’s name? Alvin Kamara.

A lack of carries can mean many things, but with Jacobs, it could be a blessing in disguise at the next level for whichever team pulls the trigger on him. He doesn’t have the workload and wear-and-tear on his body coming out of college that some of the other running backs in this class do, which would mean fresh legs and potentially a longer career for him in the NFL.

Fantasy Outlook

In my evaluation, Jacobs is an elite running back prospect coming out of college. He has the size to withstand a beating at the next level, has played against top competition in college and has the skillset to never come off the field. He has displayed great vision, great receiving ability and has a devastating juke move that has left several defenders completely whiffing on the tackle.

While he can move with incredible agility and short-area quickness, he has the perfect speed to size combination. He’s a big bruising back who is certainly not afraid to lower the shoulder and pick up the tough yards.

Jacobs should be a first-round NFL Draft pick on April 25th. For some players, their landing spot truly dictates where they should be drafted in a rookie Dynasty draft, but with Jacobs, his talent supersedes landing spot. He’s a top-3 lock in Dynasty rookie drafts for me based on my evaluation of his tape and I’ve compared him to Melvin Gordon. He’s a big back who can move extremely well for his size and can catch the ball well out of the backfield.

With this in mind, he could be a difference maker for fantasy as early as 2019.


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