Could Eric DeCosta really kick off his tenure as general manager by taking an Alabama player with his first pick?
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the prospect of the Ravens taking Alabama running back Josh Jacobs at No. 22, as ESPN’s Mel Kiper projected in his latest mock draft.
“The big thing coming out of this draft is to get a guy who can be an immediate help to Lamar Jackson, and that would be Josh Jacobs,” Kiper said in a conference call with reporters.
“The way he can run, catch and block, he would be a huge difference-maker in that offense. [Gus] Edwards had a good year, no doubt about it, but this would be a major upgrade for a kid that’s a complete running back.”
Jacobs is considered the top running back in this year’s class after a strong junior year in which he split Alabama’s running back job with Damien Harris.
He rushed for 640 yards on 120 attempts and 11 touchdowns, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Jacobs also caught 20 passes for 247 yards and three more scores, including this one below.
Here are his full highlights:
As is apparent, Jacobs displays a lot of quickness, physicality and willingness and ability to block. He can be a strong ball carrier and adept receiver out of the backfield.
It’s a bit odd that the draft’s top running back wasn’t the lead back on his own college team. Harris, a senior, had more rushing attempts (150), rushing yards (876) and touchdowns (nine). He also caught two more passes.
It's not unheard of, however. Last year, Georgia running back Sony Michel had fewer carries and rushing yards than teammate Nick Chubb. Michel was drafted by the Patriots in the first round while Chubb went in the second. Both had excellent rookie seasons.
But pundits like Harris’ upside more and believe his lighter workload (251 total carries over his three seasons) is a positive.
“This is a complete football player that has a lot of tread left,” Kiper said. “You add up his carries, they were one season for most backs. He’s ready to go. He’s got a lot of football left and I think his best football is ahead of him.”
Kiper isn’t typically a proponent of taking running backs in the first round, but at No. 22, he clearly believes Jacobs is worth the investment, especially considering his low wear-and-tear.
For comparison, the Saints’ Alvin Kamara only had 210 carries in his college career at Tennessee and was an immediate difference-maker in the NFL.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah is also smitten with Jacobs and ranked him as the sixth-best prospect in the entire class.
“I think he’s an absolute stud,” Jeremiah told “Glenn Clark Radio” this week.
“We just had Valentine’s Day and my wife was obviously my Valentine, but Josh Jacobs was second. If I was going to send anybody those little candy hearts, I would have probably sent them to Tuscaloosa. I love that dude; I absolutely love watching him play football. He is so tough and physical, and he’s got such burst and explosiveness.”
While Baltimore was quite pleased with what Edwards and Kenneth Dixon, who are both set to return, did down the stretch last season, new Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman said the Ravens are keeping an eye out for an elite running back.
Roman also prefers that his running backs be excellent runners, first and foremost, as opposed to major pass-catchers out of the backfield.
“I do feel though that in our system, the ability to run the ball comes first,” Roman said. “Then, if we can find a guy that really excels in that [receiving] area – we’d love to have him. But el numero uno for us is: Here’s the ball, and now go run with it.”