NFL

Can Raiders actually trust Josh Jacobs to be a featured RB?

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Josh Jacobs, the first-round pick of the Raiders and the first running back picked in the 2019 draft, takes a truly bizarre college résumé into his NFL career.

• Jacobs played 40 games at Alabama. He ran for 100 yards against Kentucky in his fourth college outing, and then, in his final 36 games, never ran for 100 yards in a game.

• His highest 10 rushing games as a collegian, in yards gained: 100, 98, 97, 97, 89, 83, 68, 57, 52, 51.

• His biggest workloads as a collegian, in numbers of rushes in a game: 20, 16, 15, 12, 11, 11, 10, 9, 9, 8.

• In one of 40 college games, including receptions, Jacobs touched the ball 20 times.

Not to sound an alarm bell or anything, but the Raiders want Jacobs to be a bellcow back, the kind who regularly will have 20 touches or more in a game. It’s entirely possible that he’ll be great at that role. But if he is, it’ll be the first time doing it since high school in Oklahoma. In three years at Alabama, Jacobs was part of Nick Saban’s running back-by-committee system. This is going to be a very interesting test for Jacobs starting in September.

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Compelling NFL games after draft; could schedule release be adjusted?

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After free agency and the draft, some games this fall got a whole lot more interesting. In fact, talking to the schedule nerds in the NFL (and talking to one owner at the league meetings this year), my guess is there’s a 50-50 chance that the schedule—which now gets released annually in the third week of April, a week before the draft—could soon get pushed back to being released in the first half of May instead.

Nooooooooooo! I can hear fans who make their annual treks to games from far away and already think the schedule gets put out too late. And I can hear teams complain too, because they need to make plans for travel and game-day events, etc. But in the end, TV ratings trump all, and the fact that Kyler Murray and the Cardinals are on TV only once in prime time this year could turn out to be poor TV planning. We shall see. But if the league thinks it can get a 10-percent-higher rating on a Monday night game with Kyler Murray than in a game with starless quarterbacking, the league’s going to seriously consider pushing back the schedule-release date.

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For now, here are the games that got more compelling after the draft:

Sunday, Sept. 8. Detroit at Arizona. It’ll be a major upset if this is not the debut of Kyler Murray in the Valley of the Sun, and the unveiling of Kliff Kingsbury’s edgy offense too—he won’t be showing much in the preseason.

Monday, Sept. 9. Denver at Oakland. Talk about two new teams. Joe Flacco throwing to Noah Fant. Kareem Jackson covering Antonio Brown, Bryce Callahan trying to blanket Tyrell Williams. Josh Jacobs getting 20 touches (at least) against the rebuilding Denver D in Vic Fangio’s head-coaching debut. What a fun game this should be.

Sunday, Sept. 22. Pittsburgh at San Francisco. Nick Bosa begins his career with two road games against average quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton. Here in Week 3, he plays his first home game against tree-trunk QB Ben Roethlisberger and a premier offensive line. This game will be the first acid test for Bosa.

Sunday, Oct. 6. Baltimore at Pittsburgh. Devin Bush: This game’s one of the big reasons why the Steelers used first, second and third-round picks to draft you 10th overall. Today’s the day you’ve got to chase/neutralize/bash Lamar Jackson, the quarterback of your new nemesis.

Sunday, Dec. 15. Cleveland at Arizona. The Lincoln Riley Bowl. The last two Heisman winners, good pals Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, meet in the desert. Another note: Just imagine if someone had said a year ago that one of the interesting NFL games of 2019 would be Freddie Kitchens matching wits with Kliff Kingsbury. Good example of “NFL” really meaning Not For Long.

Sunday, Dec. 22. Giants at Washington. Week 16 for New York and Washington could be meaningless, wait-till-2020 stuff. But by this time, I’m assuming Daniel Jones is starting for the Giants, and a Daniel Jones-Dwayne Haskins matchup, which could be the first of many test matches between the two 2019 first-round QBs (they meet in Week 4 too, when Jones will still presumably be on the bench for the Giants). Dave Gettleman watches intently.

Peter King’s 2019 NFL Draft headlines: Tyreek Hill must go, Steelers find new Shazier, more

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My 2019 draft-coverage gameplan: in a word, weird. Thursday, Denver. I just thought John Elway might do something out of the ordinary, and he did, sort of, dealing down for a tight end/security blanket for Joe Flacco (Noah Fant) and falling into Drew Lock, which he never expected to do, with the 42nd pick … Friday, Oakland, playing catch-up with a chock-full Raider draft and the Gruden-Mayock dynamic. “The confidence I have [in the GM] is better than I’ve ever had,” Gruden told me. “The guy is sick. He’s a maniacal worker. I love him.” … Saturday, Tempe. Kyler Murray and Josh Rosen, oh my. Good chunks on all of those stops coming.But first, headlines from the weekend:

• Tyreek Hill has to go. Audio surfaced in Kansas City on Thursday, in connection with injuries suffered by Hill’s 3-year-old son, with the son saying, “Daddy did it.” Further, when the boy’s mom told Hill the son was terrified of him, Hill said to her, “You need to be terrified of me too, bitch.” The Chiefs barred their all-pro wide receiver, Hill, from team activities after hearing the tape, and now must take the next step: cutting Hill, who already was walking a thin line after punching the woman in question in the stomach when she was pregnant. The second-round choice of Georgia sprinter Mecole Hardman (4.33 speed) telegraphed the end for Hill in Kansas City.• The Giants, controversially, find Eli’s heir. All those who had Daniel Jones going sixth overall—nine spots ahead of Dwayne Haskins, 36 ahead of Drew Lock—well, you’re clearly in the head of GM Dave Gettleman. The Giants did not want to take a scintilla of risk by picking pass-rusher Josh Allen at six and taking Jones with their second pick at 17 (and he almost certainly would have been there then). On Sunday, Gettleman told me: “I agonized over that. Agonized.” Washington finally gets a long-term quarterback. After the failed RG III experiment in 2012, Washington has stumbled from passer to passer. Now owner Dan Snyder hopes Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins (who prepped at the Bullis School in Bethesda) will be the franchise quarterback Griffin never was.• GM of the Draft: An unknown one—Miami’s Chris Grier, who, with two trades in the span of an hour Friday night, turned the 48th overall pick into Josh Rosen, a sixth-round pick and a second-round pick in 2020. The Dolphins now have a year to see if the 10th pick in the 2018 draft, Rosen, can be the QB of the future … and if not, Grier will have five extra picks (as of now) in 2020 to find that franchise passer in a richer crop of prospects next April. “I know some people say we’re tanking,” Grier said from Florida on Saturday night. “That’s the furthest thing from the truth. It’s gathering draft capital, plus we’ve now got a quarterback to come in and compete for us.”• The Steelers finally find a Shazier replacement. Mike Tomlin has been jonesing for a sideline-to-sideline playmaker and defensive captain-type since Ryan Shazier was lost with a spinal injury in December 2017. GM Kevin Colbert did something very uncharacteristic to help: He traded up in the first round for the first time in 16 years to get Michigan speed linebacker Devin Bush, who paid homage to his predecessor. Shazier is still trying to return to play football. “I know he has the heart and the will,” Bush said.

• Doug Baldwin might be done. The Seattle wideout and team conscience has had three off-season surgeries, is 30, and GM John Schneider acknowledged Baldwin could retire. “Whatever happens, Doug will go down as one of the great players in the history of this program,” coach Pete Carroll said. Undrafted out of Stanford, the slight Baldwin used guile and extreme competitiveness to catch 551 balls and score 55 touchdowns in eight seasons. He will be missed, in so many ways, if he’s gone.

• A strange pick in Carolina. “This has nothing to do with Cam Newton,” GM Marty Hurney said after the Panthers used a third-round choice on West Virginia quarterback Will Grier. Nothing? I am not buying what Hurney’s selling. In the last two years, Newton has had rotator-cuff surgery (2017) and arthroscopic shoulder surgery (2019), both on his throwing shoulder. Cam turns 30 in two weeks. It’s okay to say, “We need some insurance at the most important position in sports.” Because that’s what this is.

• So long, SeaBass. The last kicker to be drafted in the first round, Sebastian Janikowski, retired Sunday after a 19-year career, with the record for most field goals of 50 yards or longer (58) in a career. In 2000, Al Davis drafted him 17th overall. That’s one slot ahead of Chad Pennington, 125 slots ahead of Shane Lechler, 182 slots ahead of Tom Brady. That’s quite a run.

• The Road Draft is one of the best ideas the NFL ever had. Chicago was better than New York, Philadelphia was better than Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth was very good, and Nashville, even sopping wet Thursday night, was as good as Dallas-Fort Worth. Next year: Las Vegas. Lunacy alert.

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