Josh Jacobs
The people jumped the gun on the Josh Jacobs hype train. The gap between Jacobs and Damien Harris is non-existent. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The People Jumped The Gun On The Josh Jacobs Hype Train

It’s time to face the reality that people jumped the gun on the Josh Jacobs hype train. Let me preface a few things before I get started here.

A: Josh Jacobs is better than I thought he would be. I’m a man of honor and integrity. When I’m wrong I put my hand up and apologize. It just doesn’t happen often enough for me to write the apology posts.

B: Jacobs is still not a first round talent at the running back position.

C: When things come full circle and we really analyze this thing, I’m going to end up being right. The gap between Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris is non-existent. Mike Mayock blew this pick.

The 2019 NFL Draft was a really weak running back class. There is no doubt about it. It was slim pickings at the position. Going into the draft, I was not a proponent for using an early pick on Josh Jacobs. Mostly because his collegiate teammate Damien Harris might have been the better player two rounds later.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Harris is better than Jacobs or vice versa. What I will argue is that Jacobs has clearly proven he’s not a first round talent and using a third round pick was clearly the better alternative.

It’s still too early to write the book on either player. Especially because Bill Belichick rarely trusts rookie running backs and Harris essentially didn’t play a year ago. If you haven’t been paying attention, Harris is slowly become a terrific running back.

During the 2020 season, Harris ranks 4th in the NFL in yards per carry (5.1) out of all running backs with at least 100 carries. Jacobs meanwhile sits at 3.8 which is a very below average mark for the position. Again, I’m not arguing who’s better. Statistically, Harris has been significantly more efficient albeit with less of a workload.

Of course, yards per carry isn’t a perfect metric. Anybody would admit that it’s easier to run the ball if the defense isn’t stacking the box upfront to stop it. The way the defense plays the run has a lot to do with the yard per carry mark. Running against an 8 man front is not easy.

According to Next Gen Stats, Harris faces an 8+ man box man than any other running back in the league. Harris is running against eight man fronts 44.55% of the time. The fact that Harris is averaging 5.1 yards per carry against this type of defense is borderline insane asylum.

Cam Newton has struggled throwing the football. Cam has four touchdown passes on the entire season in 10 starts. Defenses aren’t respecting his throwing ability. If you can stop the run, you stop this Patriots offense. Harris is the heartbeat of the entire New England offense right now.

Jacobs falls short to Harris again in this category. Jacobs faces eight-man boxes just 25.73 percent of the time. Derek Carr has been on firing throwing the ball making life easier for Jacobs to run it. The problem is, Jacobs really isn’t providing much value.

Next Gen Stats also has a stat called rush yards over expected per attempt. Are you creating yards after contact? Are you creating yards more than just what the offensive line gives you? Again, Jacobs falls short to Harris. The Raiders back sits at 0.09 RYOE/Attempt while Harris has a mark of 0.69.

Side Note: For the love of God, if somebody would listen to me about Nick Chubb, that would be great. The Next Gen numbers on Chubb are hilarious.

Feel free to not count this next point. For those who know me, know I have zero respect for Pro Football Focus. That entire company is a joke. I’ll fully admit that. You can do whatever you want with this information. PFF has Harris graded as the number one running back in the sport.

Do I necessarily agree with it? God, no. I think Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb should be one-two in any order. There’s really no denying that Harris has been impressive. For what it’s worth, PFF has Jacobs graded as a 78.5.

Are we 100 percent positive Jacobs was the best Alabama running back in his draft class? I’m not and more so believe that if there’s a gap, it’s very narrow. There’s no gap.

Can we all chill out on the Raiders? Can stop pretending that Mike Mayock knows what he’s doing? This idea that Mayock has nailed these drafts is lunacy. Picking Josh Jacobs in the first round is one in a long list of mistakes.