When it comes to the running back position in the 2019 NFL Draft, there is something of a scrum to determine the top player.
Most list Alabama running back Joshua Jacobs as the top back in the class, but there are dissenters. There are those who list David Montgomery from Iowa State, while others have Penn State’s Mile Sanders climbing boards. Some even cite Darrell Henderson from Memphis as the best running back in the draft.
Fortunately for the New York Giants, they don’t need to invest serious resources in the running back position this year. However, they still need to scout the players to set up their boards accurately, and they might become opponents in the near future.
So, is Alabama’s Josh Jacobs the best back in the land? And if so, what kind of runner is he?
- Good size and frame for the position.
- Good vision to spot holes and defenders.
- Patient setting up his blockers
- Consistently looks to finish runs behind his pads.
- Versatile. Reliable receiver, willing blocker.
- Impressive jump cut for a bigger back.
- One-speed runner, and not a fast one at that.
- Limited burst.
- Contact balance can be questionable.
- Chain-mover but not a big play threat.
What They’re Saying
A team-first, high character prospect with relentless physicality on the field, Jacobs’ best trait might be his outstanding vision behind the line of scrimmage and at the second level. His active eyes and ability to find space with timing and velocity allow him to maximize almost every carry he gets.
That number isn’t plentiful however, as Jacobs suffered nagging injuries during his sophomore year that kept him under the radar, and didn’t break out until the end of his junior year. The lack of touches will bother some, as Jacobs certainly can’t hang his hat on college production, but the traits and ability are undeniable on tape. He’s extremely talented, young (turns 21 at end of February) and already extremely well-rounded. Should be an immediate contributor in the NFL with a great chance to be the first running back off the board.
- Jon Ledyard (The Draft Network - Scouting Report)
Does He Fit The Giants?
Jacobs has a well-rounded skill set that would go quite well in the GIants’ offense. Jacobs is a powerful runner with good vision to find holes, patience to set up his blocks, and who’s one-cut style is quick to get up field. As a receiver he is capable of lining up in several positions is reliable receiver who can pick up yards after the catch. He also has upside as a kick returner and is a willing blocker for his teammate. Interestingly, Alabama would occasionally use him as a fullback for other runners, and he was solid in the role, giving them added versatility and options for their two-back sets.
Jacobs’ biggest weakness is his lack of speed and burst out of his cuts. He will often find himself fighting through contact on runs that a more explosive back would turn into breakaways. He measured in at 220 pounds, and could turn himself into a Le’Veon Bell type player in the right system and with a similar transformation of his physique.
However, given that they already have a similar player in Wayne Gallman Jr. on the roster, and it will likely cost a high round draft pick to acquire Jacobs, he is only a fit in theory.
But while the Giants shouldn’t draft Jacobs, they should do their due diligence in scouting him. In particular, they should pay attention to how Alabama used both Damian Harris and Jacobs at the same time, then apply it to their own running back position with Saquon Barkley and Gallman.