Nov 24, 2013; Green Bay, WI, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart (32) is tackled by Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) and defensive end Mike Daniels (76) in the 1st quarter at Lambeau Field. The Packers and Vikings finished in a tie 26-26. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
The Jacksonville Jaguars were exceedingly active in free agency this offseason thanks to an envious amount of cap space. General manager David Caldwell has done a good job of trimming the fat and taking care of some financial burdens imposed on the franchise by former general manager Gene Smith. After hitting on some key free agent acquisitions in 2013 – Sen’Derrick Marks and Alan Ball being the two most prominent – it’s time to see if any players from this free agent class can be as successful going forward.
Today we take a look at a guy who has some big shoes to fill in running back Toby Gerhart.
After one of the most productive college careers in recent memory for a running back, Gerhart found himself in a peculiar situation coming out of Stanford. Despite being drafted in the second round, he had to sit behind the best running back in football – Adrian Peterson. While limited, he did find some opportunities to shine. Here’s the breakdown of his first four years with some added statistics from Pro Football Focus.
|Year||Snaps||Carries||Yds/Car||TD||Miss Tkls.||Fumbles||Rec.||Rec. Yds.||Pass Blk. Grade||Pass Grade||Rush Grade||Overall|
Gerhart had by far his most productive season in 2011 when he got more carries and more snaps. He averaged almost 5 yards a carry and his 7.0 overall grade was good enough for 16th best at the running back position according to Pro Football Focus.
If his numbers in the table above indicate anything, it’s that Gerhart clearly benefits from carrying the load and getting into a rhythm. It makes sense given how productive he was at Stanford when he was the bell cow back and managed to be a finalist for the Heisman trophy.
In addition to being a productive runner when given the chance, Gerhart has shown the ability to be effective catching the ball out of the backfield. Gerhart’s 600 yards receiving are pretty close to Adrian Peterson’s 868 during the same 4-year span despite getting significantly less snaps. Still, Gerhart has dropped 8 passes over his career, something he should work on if he wants to become a more reliable threat receiving.
No one expects Gerhart to come in and make everyone forget about Maurice Jones-Drew, but he has the chance to be a very effective running back and help this team take the next step towards competitiveness. He’s a tough runner who is more athletic than he’s given credit for, and he now has the chance to show his worth.
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