Josh Jacobs may have been the top running back selected in the 2019 NFL Draft but nobody could’ve foreseen how fast he’d be a major impact player for the Las Vegas Raiders. He quickly proved to be one of the hardest rushers to tackle in the league and was the immediate bell cow for the team. Heading into his second year, the hype surrounding Jacobs is real and he’s getting recognized for his talent.
Former NFL wide receiver turned NFL Network analyst Nate Burleson had some strong praise for the young running back and said he could be the “king of the AFC West.”
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) August 7, 2020
“He was dangerously close to being the top running back in the league,” Burleson said of Jacobs. “He was just off by a little bit and missing those games really hurt him putting up major numbers towards the end of the year.”
King of the AFC West would be a lofty title considering the reigning Super Bowl MVP plays in the division. Right now, Patrick Mahomes owns the division but Jacobs is probably already the best running back out of each of the four teams. He’d need to have some legendarily huge seasons to become king of the division but considering how much the Raiders love to run the ball, it’s not impossible that it could happen.
Jacobs Was Highest-Rated Offensive Rookie Last Year
Jacobs was the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year all season in 2019 but ended up losing to Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. The decision to give him the award was a blatant example of quarterback bias in the awards process. Murray had a good season for a rookie quarterback while Jacobs just had a good season for a running back of any status.
In fact, Jacobs was the highest-graded offensive rookie last year, according to Pro Football Focus.
Highest-graded offensive rookies of 2019:
1. Josh Jacobs – 87.1
2. Terry McLaurin – 85.7
3. A.J. Brown – 81.8 pic.twitter.com/QBPUHbcKTP
— PFF (@PFF) August 9, 2020
Murray didn’t even land in the top three. Jacobs doesn’t come off as a guy who cares much about awards but the report is that head coach Jon Gruden isn’t happy about the snub. In retaliation, he’s planning on making sure Jacobs has a monster season. The young running back could have a chance to put up one of the best rushing performances in a single season by a Raider.
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Jacobs a ‘Hall of Fame-Type’ Player?
Despite having a couple of the best running backs in NFL history, the Raiders haven’t been able to find a long-term solution at the position for years. They’ve seen solid seasons from the likes of Latavius Murray and Justin Fargas but none of those guys stayed with the team long. With Jacobs, Las Vegas could have a long-term solution at the position.
“He played with some stuff and it really showed his toughness,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said on a Zoom call with Valley Children’s Healthcare DC4Kids supporters a couple of weeks ago. “He’s a super special player that can be a Hall of Fame-type player.”
Talking about the Hall of Fame and Jacobs is definitely premature but he has enough talent. It’ll just be a matter of doing his best to stay healthy. If he can keep his body right, he could end up being an all-timer for the Raiders.