In the past, Jon Gruden hasn’t been hesitant about giving the ball to a rookie running back. Back in 2005, when he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, he used first-round pick Cadillac Williams – taken fifth overall out of Auburn – like a workhorse.
Over 14 games, Williams had 290 carries for 1,178 yards and six touchdowns. Williams also had 20 receptions.
So, as the Raiders head toward 2019, it’s a good bet that Josh Jacobs, the Raiders’ first-round pick out of Alabama and 24th overall selection, will see plenty of action as a rookie, too.
Jacobs, in fact, is projected as one of the NFL’s highest-impact rookies in 2019. In odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year in the NFL, Jacobs is the No. 3 favorite – behind quarterbacks Kyler Murray of Arizona and Dwayne Haskins of Washington – by BetOnline.
And, as Marcus Mosher of RaidersWire pointed out, running backs traditionally can make big splashes in their rookie seasons. Saquon Barkley of the Giants, Alvin Kamara of the Saints and Todd Gurley of the Rams have been Rookie of the Year winners since 2015.
ESPN’s longtime draft analyst, Mel Kiper Jr., also noted that Jacobs come into the perfect situation in Oakland. The 5-foot-9, 209-pounder could thrive.
"Isaiah Crowell is out for the season," wrote Kiper. "Doug Martin is back, but he’s declining. Marshawn Lynch is gone. That means there’s a hole atop the Raiders’ running back depth chart. You should know by now that I don’t love taking running backs in the first round, but this was such a Jon Gruden pick. Jacobs is a grinder, a complete back who breaks tackles and can catch passes.
"He can play on third down. He had just 291 career touches from scrimmage at Alabama, so he has limited tread on his tires. Jacobs’ best is yet to come."