INDIANAPOLIS — Raiders running back Josh Jacobs has only been in the league for a year, but his performance and playing style have already made him someone to emulate.
Speaking at the NFL scouting combine on Wednesday, former LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire said he models his game after Jacobs.
“He’s a guy that was versatile,” Edwards-Helaire said of Jacobs. “He came out and was able to do everything that was asked of him — pass protection, running between the tackles. Being able to catch the ball is something that I feel like he prided himself on.”
Jacobs, a 2019 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year finalist, played against Edwards-Helaire while at Alabama. In his first year as a pro, Jacobs set a franchise rookie record with 1,150 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns. He also had 20 receptions for 166 yards in 13 games.
Jacobs missed three of the Raiders’ last four contests with a shoulder injury.
Edwards-Helaire said he wants to be that same kind of all-purpose running back who can make an impact right away in the NFL. He rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns in LSU’s 2019 national championship season, adding 55 receptions for 453 yards and a touchdown.
Former Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor is one of only two players to have consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons at the FBS level. He nearly had three, but was 23 yards short in his freshman year.
Now, Taylor’s college career is being mentioned with some of the all-time greats. He finished his three years at Wisconsin No. 6 on the NCAA rushing list with 6,174 yards. Fellow Wisconsin product Ron Dayne is No. 1 with 7,125 yards, racking them up from 1996 to 1999.
“It’s an honor. Any time you’re mentioned with those guys, it’s a blessing. And I think the biggest thing is to understand that you didn’t do it alone,” Taylor said.
If there’s one element of Taylor’s game that he needs to improve, it’s ball security. He fumbled 18 times in 41 collegiate games, and 15 of them were recovered by Wisconsin’s opponent. Eight of those fumbles came when he was a freshman, four as a sophomore and six as a junior.
Taylor explained some of them, but knows it’s an issue.
“Freshman year was not my best year with that. Cleaned it up sophomore year a bit. … Then going into junior year, had a couple mishaps — some with the wildcat,” Taylor said. “You never want those mishaps to happen. But as far as those fumbles when you’re in traffic, those are things when you have to be technically sound.”
Taylor is undoubtedly productive, but the ball security issues could be an issue for teams that want to draft him.
Best in class?
As any young prospect with confidence should, former Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins said he felt like he’s the best in his draft class at his position.
“I think I have tremendous vision. I can do it all,” Dobbins said. “I can be explosive. I can grind it out. And I’m also a leader. I think I make everyone around me play better when they’re playing with me.”
Dobbins also pointed out that while he did have a critical drop in Ohio State’s playoff game against Clemson, he has a history of being productive in the passing game.
“A lot of people try to say I can’t catch because I accidentally took my eyes off the screen pass in the playoff game, but I had more than 70 catches, so I think I can catch pretty good,” Dobbins said.
In all, Dobbins had 2,003 yards rushing with 21 rushing touchdowns, plus 23 receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns in 2019 alone. He totaled 71 receptions for 645 yards with five touchdowns in his collegiate career.
Dobbins said he might not run the 40-yard dash at the combine because he’s not quite 100 percent recovered from his sprained ankle.