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Brandon Jacobs the NFL's Most Overrated Player?

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So says Pete Prisco of CBS Sports.

My most overrated player is New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. Even after 1,000-yard seasons in 2007 and 2008, I thought he was a bit overrated. People became enamored with his size since he is huge for a back at 6-feet-4 and 265 pounds.

But I think his size hurts him. He doesn't make tacklers miss. If there is no hole, he isn't cutting to find one. He runs straight ahead and upright, not my style of back.

Jacobs gained 3.7 yards per rush last season and wound up with 835 yards. He seemed to tiptoe into the line. His touchdown total dropped from 15 to six. Some of it might have been the result of a knee issue that required scoping after the season, but I think the Giants offense is significantly better when Ahmad Bradshaw, all 5-9 of him, is in the backfield.

Bradshaw gained 4.8 yards per carry last season. He is much more explosive and can make people miss.

Running over people the way Jacobs does sometimes will get you on highlight shows. But it's not the way to run.

It's the way to earn an overrated label. He's this year's overall winner.

Are you buying what Prisco is selling? I'm not. At least not completely. And probably not for the reasons you think.

See, in order to buy the notion that Jacobs is 'overrated,' you have to have overrated him in the first place. Which means you have to believe that he is in that upper echelon of backs that includes Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Steven Jackson and maybe a few other guys who can be considered "great."

I have never put Jacobs in that class. He is part of a large NFL contingent of 'very good" backs, at least when he is right.

The most overrated player in the league? Prisco's argument seems largely based on his distaste for Jacobs' straight-ahead, run over instead of around the defense, style.

Here is what I believe about Jacobs. He is not a create your own hole, make a guy miss in the backfield type of runner. Never has been, never will be. He needs an offensive line that can give him a hole, getting him to the second level and allowing him to do what the Giants pay him to do. That, of course, is punish linebackers and defensive backs, allowing the Giants to establish the physical tone they look for.

In 2007 and 2008 the Giants' offensive line was among the best in football. Jacobs' 4.9 yards per carry average in both of those seasons was testament not to his elusiveness, but to the line's ability to get him to the second level and allow him to do what he does best -- wear down defenses with his 265-pound frame.

In 2009, Rich Seubert played hurt and was not effective. Same with blocking fullback Madison Hedgecock. Right tackle Kareem McKenzie, an excellent run blocker, missed time with injuries.

As a result, Jacobs sometimes looked like Ron Dayne, tip-toeing around and looking for a place to go. Often, there wasn't one. His knee injury certainly slowed him some, but the dip to 3.7 yards per carry had as much or more to do with the line that it did with Jacobs himself.

Remember, that line helped Derrick Ward to a 1,000-yard season in 2008 and a resulting big free-agent contract with Tampa Bay. Ward gained all of 409 yards (3.6 per carry) last season with the Buccaneers.

Despite his size he isn't really a great short-yardage runner because needs momentum, a crack to get through. Plowing straight ahead on third-and-one he isn't going to get those things. Personally, I like Jacobs on the "stretch" play because it allows him to build a head of steam by the time he gets to the line of scrimmage and make one fairly simple cut to get headed upfield.

Will we ever see Jacobs average 4.9 yards per carry again? I doubt it. Will we ever see him play a full season with getting hurt? I doubt that, too. Is there an argument that can be made that Bradshaw is the better back? Sure there is. Especially in today's big-play oriented NFL where there is less emphasis on grinding out first downs and controlling the clock and more on trying for the home run.

Jacobs, though, should still be able to get the Giants four yards a crack if the blocking in front of him can give him a place to run. That's enough for him, and the Giants' running game, to be effective.

Is he overrated? Only if you aren't willing to recognize how dependent he has always been on the blocking in front of him in the first place.

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