Watch these highlights of Josh Jacobs and try not to get excited about the prospect of adding him to the Ravens' backfield.
Jacobs was a dynamic back at Alabama. He catches passes out of the backfield. He's shifty and makes people miss. At 5-foot-11, 220 pounds, he breaks tackles and finishes runs with power. He throws punishing blocks. He returns kickoffs. Simply put, he's a complete player.
The Ravens are committed to running the football and drafting Jacobs would give them one of the NFL's deepest and most talented backfields. Imagine a rotation featuring Jacobs, Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon. Plenty of talent, different styles, all running with fresh legs. That's enough to give opponents migraines, especially when you add Lamar Jackson's explosiveness to the equation.
But after signing Ingram, should the Ravens take a running back over greater needs like wide receiver, pass rusher, inside linebacker or offensive line? While many mock drafts linked Jacobs to the Ravens prior to free agency, it's difficult to find a recent mock draft that has Jacobs headed to the Ravens now that they've signed Ingram.
"I would be surprised if they [draft him]," ESPN's Mel Kiper said. "I'm not big on running backs in Round 1. I think you can get these guys down the line. … Look at Gus Edwards, undrafted for the Ravens. Priest Holmes, undrafted for the Ravens. You can find running backs."
However, if Jacobs is still on the board at No. 22, it would be hard not to consider him. Especially if the Ravens like him as much as Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network, who has Jacobs ranked as the draft’s eighth-best prospect.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, Jacobs has also been extremely impressive during the pre-draft interview process.
At the Combine, Jacobs said he was excited about the possibility of being Jackson's teammate.
"Lamar is definitely tough," Jacobs said. "That would definitely be a good look."
Meanwhile, there is already a bond between Ingram and Jacobs, two Alabama products who recently spent time together on campus.
If the Ravens draft Jacobs, they won't be getting someone who believes he is entitled. He overcame a challenging upbringing in Tulsa, Okla. to excel in football. Financial hardships forced Jacobs' family to move often. Sometimes he slept in the family car with siblings, or in cramped hotel rooms.
"Going through all the things I've been through in my life, fighting adversity and everything like that kind of motivated me today," Jacobs said at the Combine. "Just being here is a blessing."
Perhaps the biggest knock on Jacobs is that he lacks breakaway speed. However, his time in the 40-yard dash improved at Alabama’s second pro day, and his vision and cutback ability allows him to find holes that some backs don't.
As a junior last season, Jacobs played in a multi-back system and carried the ball just 120 times, gaining 640 yards with 11 touchdowns and averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Alabama teammate Damien Harris actually had more yards (856) and carries (150) for the Crimson Tide last season, making some people question whether Jacobs is being overrated as the top running back in the draft. However, Jacobs thinks he'll have an advantage entering the NFL because he wasn't overworked in college.
"After games, I didn't even have bruises," Jacobs said. "That's where the new trend in the league is going."
ESPN analyst Louis Riddick believes the team that drafts Jacobs won’t regret it.
"He's a multi-dimensional player who doesn't have a lot of wear-and-tear on him because of the three-headed monster they had at Alabama," Riddick said. "Defensive backs aren't going to want to deal with him very much in the NFL just like they didn't in college. He'll punish you."