With three picks in the first round of the upcoming NFL draft, the Raiders can upgrade at several positions.
One position of need at this point is at running back, where last season’s No. 1 player, Marshawn Lynch, is now a free agent. He may still return, or he could retire. In any case, the Raiders likely need an infusion of talent in the backfield for now or later.
Longtime ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has addressed that need in his latest mock draft, predicting the Raiders will select Alabama running back Josh Jacobs with their second pick, at No. 24 of the first round.
Jacobs didn’t make much of a national splash for the Crimson Tide in his three seasons. As a junior this past season, he rushed for just 640 yards on 120 carries and had 20 catches for 247 yards.
But, the 5-foot-10, 216-pounder was just one piece of a very talented Alabama offense, and NFL scouts believe he could be the best back in the draft.
Wrote Kiper: “Could the best running back in the draft fall to (the Raiders) here? It’s possible. Jacobs has limited tread on his tires – just 300 career touches for the Crimson Tide – and is a receiving threat out of the backfield.”
Plus, when he did touch the ball, Jacobs made things happen. Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus noted recently that 41 percent of Jacobs’ carries in 2018 went for either a first down or touchdown, “the highest percentage of any RB in college football.” He’s also a punishing runner, who breaks tackles or makes tacklers pay a price for trying to stop him.
Draft analyst Lance Zierlein believes Jacobs could become a “bellcow lead back” in the NFL.
“Jacobs is a decisive runner with outstanding one-cut talent,” he wrote.