Alabama in the Pros

Josh Jacobs was the NFL’s most elusive RB in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus

Kirby Lee - USA TODAY Sports

As tough-minded as Jon Gruden is, he really likes offensive players. 

Before taking Henry Ruggs III of Alabama with the Raiders’ first selection of the NFL Draft, he took Josh Jacobs at No. 24 overall last year.

He grew up homeless in middle school, and the frustration of not knowing where his next meal would come from along with wanting more for his family, fueled him to become a fan favorite in college and a star in the pros as a rookie. 

For residents of Oakland, Calif., the 2019 season gave them something to cheer about for the first time in a while. Jacobs embraced the silver and black and took on the mindset of the organization with his play.

A native of Tulsa, Okla., he was the featured running back in Gruden’s offense – becoming the first rookie in team history to have 1,000 yards rushing.  

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Jacobs collected five 100-yard games and ended the year as the league’s eight-best rusher with 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns. He put on a show in the months of October and November, recording four 100-yard outings in seven games.

The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder kept the Raiders on pace for the playoffs and was a two-time Offensive Rookie of the Month.

He even helped out in the passing game, grabbing 20 throws from Derek Carr for 166 receiving yards.

If not for a shoulder injury and a skin infection, Jacobs would have guided the Raiders into the postseason. He missed three of the last four games and the team went 7-9. Despite this, the team at Pro Football Focus saw him as the NFL’s most elusive back. He graded out with forcing 69 missed tackles at the position, which was the most. Jacobs even surpassed former Crimson Tide standout and 2015 Heisman winner, Derrick Henry as he forced 58 missed tackles last season.

With the team now in Las Vegas, Nev. and the addition of Ruggs, look for Jacobs to have a field day against opposing defenses in his second year.  

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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