Oakland Raiders: Rookie report card at the midway point of the season

Oakland Raiders (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Oakland Raiders (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

1st Round, 24th Overall — Josh Jacobs, RB

No matter how much you liked Josh Jacobs as a prospect, there is no way you could have expected him to be this good out of the gate.

Jacobs has had a rookie season that is on the same level as elite backs such as Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley‘s respective rookie seasons. The Raiders have leaned heavily on the run game, and Jacobs has been the wheel that keeps the offense turning.

Through eight games, Jacobs is seventh in the league in rushing with 740 yards to go along with six touchdowns on an average of 4.9 yards per carry.

Speaking of elite running backs like Elliott, following Jacobs’ three-touchdown performance against Detroit, the Alabama product became the first rookie running back with at least three games of multiple rush touchdowns since Elliott’s 2016 rookie season.

He has also broken the franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie running back, surpassing Marcus Allen who held the previous record with 697 back in 1982.

Doug Martin, who started at running back last year, was said to have had a decent year in 2018 for the Raiders. But having Josh Jacobs on the team has shown how having a top running back can totally transform an offense.

The Raiders ran the ball a lot less last year which is why quarterback Derek Carr threw for a career-high in passing yards. This year, the team is playing total smashmouth football and because of that, the team has had a chance in pretty much every game this season.

No matter how high-powered an offense is, they cannot score if they are not on the field. Jacobs and the running game have allowed the Raiders to win the ball-control game, which keeps the team in games against more talented squads.

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Vision and jump cuts in short space have been a huge reason for Jacobs’ success, but his ability to break would-be tacklers and prevent negative yards is another.

The Raiders’ last game against Detroit was the perfect example of this with Jacobs not having one run for negative yards despite carrying the rock 28 times in the game.

And it isn’t just Raider Nation that has been paying attention.

Recently an ESPN panel voted Josh Jacobs as the best rookie so far during the 2019 season, and his current odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year have risen dramatically since I wrote an article regarding his odds earlier in the season, as he sits at one or two according to most sites now.

It will be exciting to see how Jacobs finishes off the season as he is currently on pace for 1,480 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, which would be the second-best rushing season in franchise history behind only Marcus Allen‘s amazing 1985 campaign.

The Tulsa, Oklahoma native comes from humble beginnings, making his success all the more fun to root for.

Hopefully, Jacobs has a long career in Oakland and will be remembered as one of the greats as that is where he is headed so far.

Grade: A+