Best Scheme Fit: Universal.
Strong receiver and good blocker who profiles a true three-down
back; possesses the vision and decisiveness to be an ideal fit
in a zone scheme but has the power and elusiveness to perform
in man-blocking schemes as well.
Displays exceptional vision/patience, always seems to make
the cut at the right time (0:14, 0:40, 0:53, 1:41, 2:15, 3:08, 4:33, 5:19); understands getting "skinny"
Accelerates quickly, consistently lowers his center of gravity
to deliver the blow and has the leg drive to churn out yards
after contact. (0:14, 0:20, 1:17, 1:27, 2:26, 4:23, 4:33)
Possesses next-level footwork and balance; affording him the
chance to make a jump-cut or sharp cut that can stop a defender
in his tracks. (0:14, 1:10, 1:41, 1:48, 3:08)
Shows the ability to sell a route (3:09)
and the capacity to expand his repertoire as a receiver; appears
to catch the ball naturally and can adjust to the ball in the
air. (2:39, 2:57, 5:20)
Identifies the blitzer and consistently squares up his defender
in pass pro (0:11, 0:38, 3:36, 4:00, 5:55); more than willing to serve
as a lead blocker in the run game when necessary. (0:28, 0:42, 3:46, 5:10)
Operated as the "Wildcat" quarterback in high school
Averaged 30.6 yards per kickoff return and scored a touchdown
in 14 returns in his final college season.
Toughness; played through broken ankle for more than half
of 2017 season.
Long speed? Broke off only one 20-yard run on 120 carries
in 2018; longest TD run in his career was 24 yards as a freshman
in 2016. Is that merely a product of a small workload?
Does minimal wear-and-tear (251 career carries, 48 receptions)
outweigh not handling more than 140 touches in a season or topping
15 touches in a game only three times in 40 games?
Dealt with multiple injuries throughout career; suffered shoulder
injury in junior year of high school, hamstring/ankle injuries
early in 2017 and a groin issue limited him at the combine.
Loves to finish his man in pass protection, but his technique
(hands, feet, hips) can be compromised when the defender keeps
his feet and/or battles him to a draw on initial contact.
It took about five minutes of film against Mississippi State's
second-ranked rush defense to figure out Jacobs should have a
bright future in the NFL. The overall lack of work - not only
in 2018 but throughout his three-year stay at Alabama - makes
him a bit scary to invest a first-round pick in because we have
been conditioned to believe the ability to carry a heavy workload
for at least one college season is one of several factors we must
strongly consider when evaluating running backs. After all, it's
much easier to "hide" a back's weaknesses when he averages
less than 10 touches per game. Yes, evaluators want to see more
big runs. Yes, evaluators want to see a back consistently handle
20 touches. Yes, it would have been nice for him to log at least
200 carries in at least one season to prove his durability, if
nothing else. If he busts as a pro, these points will be among
the first his detractors will point out.
With that said, the limited tape on him is about as good as it
gets for a running back prospect. It is rare to watch a see a
college running back who has the vision to find the hole, the
decisiveness and feel to hit it at the precise moment he needs
to do it, the knack to make the right cut at the right time and
the willingness to routinely punish second- and third-level defenders.
Jacobs' ability in the aforementioned areas alone make him worth
a Day 2 pick. What makes him a Day 1 prospect is all of those
qualities are included in a 220-pound package that consistently
delivered in short yardage and has much more upside in the passing
game than 20 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns in 2018
might suggest. In at least two of the video clips showing off
his skill as a pass-catcher, he flashes the ability to track the
ball like a receiver down the field. (That's not as common of
a trait for a college back as most might think.) While it's not
fair to compare him to Alvin Kamara as a receiver as some are
doing, the fact is Jacobs is much more of an all-purpose back
than what Alabama has produced in recent years. Furthermore, it's
not hard to see how much he loves the game and physicality of
it; the fact he played not one - but multiple - games with a broken
ankle, returned kicks and willingly served as the lead blocker
on runs by other teammates speaks to just how well-rounded he
A lack of durability and home run-hitting ability are the biggest
potential roadblocks on Jacobs' path to becoming a NFL star, although
it is not hard to imagine a scenario in which he reaches that
level. A zone-running scheme could help him in that regard; his
vision and decisiveness are exceptional for a college prospect.
All told, he has the look of a top-15 running back in the NFL
one day. He might not special in the same way Saquon Barkley or
Todd Gurley were coming out of college, but he is a solid first-round
prospect with few glaring weaknesses capable of making the same
kind of immediate splash Nick Chubb did once he was unleashed
last season. All he needs is a respectable situation and an open-minded
coaching staff willing to feature him.
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.