Mike Mayock knew he had to draft RB Josh Jacobs

  • By Grant Gordon NFL.com
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It didn't take Mike Mayock long to realize what an NFL talent Josh Jacobs could be and he didn't wait long to let Jon Gruden know, either.

Having already been impressed by what he had seen of the then-Alabama running back, Mayock watched him closely in the FBS National Championship. He quickly put together a reel to showcase Jacobs' skillset to Jon Gruden.

"I walked into Jon's office and I said I want you to watch a guy, we're going to take him in the first round," Mayock said Friday on The Rich Eisen Show, the day after Jacobs burst through for the game-winning touchdown in the Raiders' Thursday night win over the Chargers. "To say he was on our radar early would be fair and we tracked him all the way through the process."

Jacobs'18-yard sprint to the end zone on Thursday was the difference in Oakland's come-from-behind 26-24 victory that has the Raiders (5-4) above .500 and aiming for the postseason.

As prognosticated, Mayock and the Raiders took the 'Bama back in the first round with the 24th overall pick.

A frontrunner in every sense of the word for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Jacobs has already reestablished the Raiders' rookie rushing record and his 811 yards are best among rookies this season. He's got seven touchdowns, as well, with 4.8 yards per carry, 90.1 yards per game and is just 189 yards shy of becoming the first franchise 1,000-yard runner since Latavius Murray had 1,066 in 2015.

His abilities as a runner are only part of the package, though, as Mayock said the first two boxes that needed to be checked were his abilities to block in the passing game and to catch out of the backfield.

"I think his lateral quickness, his ability to make people miss, his pass protection, his hands. And the cool thing is, it looks like the play is blocked for one yard and he gets four. And then it looks like you block it for four and he gets 10," Mayock said while rattling off the rookie's attributes. "If this kid takes care of all the details, he has a chance to be good."

Most would likely say Jacobs has already run past good in a great first season.

"He's nine games into his career and we're cautiously optimistic," Mayock said.

Before the first game of his career, Jacobs and the rest of the Raiders were part of HBO's Hard Knocks. If you were to re-watch, you'd be hard-pressed to find much of the tailback.

"He said I just want to focus on football. I don't want any other distractions," Mayock said. "Now, in hindsight, how good does that look about the maturity of this 21-year-old man?"

In more ways than one, Jacobs hardly looks like a rookie anymore. Just the same, in multiple ways he's making Mayock's early impression look like a brilliant one.