As a rookie, Josh Jacobs was a revelation for the Raiders. He was one of the most productive running backs in the NFL and was very important for the team’s offense. While he was still very good in 2020, he didn’t take the leap that the team was likely hoping he would.
He did increase his rushing touchdowns from seven to 12, but his yards per attempt fell from 4.8 to 3.9. Jacobs also went from rushing for 1,150 yards in 13 games to 1,065 in 15 games. Those are still solid numbers and he made the Pro Bowl, but don’t put him in elite company. He has to have a really big year in 2021 if he’s going to be worth the first-round pick the Raiders used on him. Luckily, it looks like he’s putting in a lot of work.
A video of Jacobs working out with top wide receiver draft prospect Ja’Marr Chase started making the rounds on social media recently.
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) April 7, 2021
One thing that is clear from the video is that Jacobs is working on his ability as a receiver. Prior to last season, he said that he wanted to catch 60 passes on the year. He only ended up getting 33, which was still a big improvement over the 20 he caught as a rookie. Still, 33 catches isn’t enough for an elite running back. He’ll have to improve as a pass-catcher this season and it looks like he’s putting in the work.
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How Will Kenyan Drake Signing Affect Jacobs?
The Raiders turned some heads this offseason when they decided to hand Kenyan Drake a sizable contract. The team already has a good running back in Jacobs and spending a good chunk of money on a backup seems odd. However, the two have different skill sets.
Jacobs is a violent runner who is going to break a lot of tackles. Drake is a very good receiver who could occasionally line up out wide. The two men do different things well and everybody knows that Jon Gruden loves to have running backs. He’ll figure out ways to get both men plenty of touches.
Can Jacobs Sustain Success With Rebuilt OL?
A reason that Jacobs didn’t have as strong of numbers last season was because of the litany of injuries on the offensive line. The Raiders rarely had all of their starters on the field at once. With Trent Brown, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson all getting traded, things shouldn’t be much better.
It could end up being a tough season for Jacobs with so many moving pieces on the offensive line. However, it could possibly help. Hudson might be the best pass-blocking center in the NFL but he’s never been an elite run blocker. Brown was always injured so that led to a lot of inconsistency at right tackle. If the Raiders can find players who stay healthy, Jacobs would have a better time this season. The team just needs to find a great right tackle in the draft. If they pick the wrong guy, it could be a long season for the offense.
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