How does one rank a rookie running back among his new NFL peers? Maurice Jones-Drew sets about ranking each of the NFL’s number one back, and since the Raiders figure to deploy rookie Josh Jacobs as their RB1, he had to find a place in the rankings for him. Jacobs landed at number 21.
Jones-Drew had this to say about his ranking for Jacobs:
Jacobs, one of the Raiders’ three first-round draft picks this year, is the first rookie running back on this list. The Alabama product is set up for success thanks to the additions the team made at wide receiver and on the offensive line in the offseason. It’s not likely that he will often face a loaded box, giving him the opportunity to make splash plays. I see most of his value coming at the goal line and in short-yardage situations.
Normally 21st isn’t a great ranking, but it is for a back who has never taken an NFL snap. That means 11 starting NFL backs were ranked below him, only one of whom is also a rookie (David Montgomery).
Jones-Drew seems to stray from the point of ranking a back on his own merits by using Jacobs’ supporting cast as his reasoning behind it. Making this appear more like a prediction of the kind of season Jacobs will have. He notes that he thinks Jacobs value will come at the goal line and in short yardage, which he likely gets from this stat Pro Football Focus put out today about Jacobs.
The do-it-all running back should be pumped carries and targets with little competition at the position in the Oakland offense. Where he’ll likely shine is around the goal line. Jacobs had the highest percentage of carries that resulted in first downs or touchdowns of any running back in college football last season.
Doug Martin may not be competition for the starting job, but he figures to share some carries with Jacobs who has never been a feature back and the Raiders won’t want to wear him down.