by Tom LaMarre
Josh Jacobs hit the ground running last season after being drafted by the Raiders in the first round (No. 24 overall) out of Alabama.
The 5-10, 220-pound Jacobs rushed for a Raiders’ rookie record of 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns while catching 20 passes for 166 yards, and many people believe he was robbed for not being selected NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Jacobs’ best game last season came when he rushed 26 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to catching three passes for 20 yards in the Raiders’ 24-21 victory over the Chicago Bears in London.
Adam Schein of NFL.com, who is not alone in expecting bigger and better things for Jacobs in his second year, predicts that he will win the NFL rushing title in 2020.
Wrote Schein: “The Raiders’ second-year back is physical, speedy and fresh, having averaged just 123 carries over his past four years of football (three at Alabama, one in the NFL). Yes, a shoulder injury prematurely ended his fantastic rookie season—when he rushed for 1,150 yards and forced the most missed tackles as a runner, per Pro Football Focus—but he’ll be recovered and ready to rock in the fall.
“In 2020, the presence of rookie speed merchant Henry Ruggs III should loosen things up, preventing teams from always stacking the box. A year removed from the Antonio Brown debacle, Derek Carr and the passing attack are going to sing. The Raiders’ offensive line is mammoth and talented—the unit will provide Jacobs plenty of room to truck the opposition. Jacobs logged 242 carries last season. I think that number gets closer to that of fellow Alabama alum Derrick Henry, who toted the rock a league-high 303 times in 2019. I can’t wait to watch it.”
There is no telling how many yards Jacobs could have finished with last season had he not missed three games because of a right shoulder injury that bothered him for much of the season, along with a skin infection.
In addition, he has relatively fresh legs because he averaged only 83 carries per season in three years at talent-laden Alabama before leaving after his junior year. His toughness has not been questioned since he played much of his sophomore season with a broken ankle.
Of course, that was nothing when compared to living out of a car when his family was homeless for a while during his teenage years.
Jacobs’ best season with the Crimson Tide was his last, as he rushed for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns, while catching 20 passes for three more scores. As a junior, he rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game after rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns.
Schein’s expectation for Jacobs this season is No. 2 among his Nine Bold Predictions for 2020, the first being that the New England Patriots will tank without six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady.