This offseason, we’re going to take a look at some of the players on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ roster who could potentially make the leap from relative unknown to Pro Bowler or better. With the departure of Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars no longer have an identifiable “face of the franchise”, but there are numerous players who could fill that void with their play on the field.
Today we highlight a guy who has some big shoes to fill – Toby Gerhart.
Drafted in the 2nd round out of Stanford in 2010, Toby Gerhart’s selection by the Minnesota Vikings made analysts scratch their heads. Regardless of whether or not Gerhart warranted a 2nd round pick, it seemed like a luxury to spend such a high draft selection on a player who would almost never see the field thanks to Adrian Peterson. Predictably enough, Gerhart averaged only 69 rushing attempts per year in his first 4 seasons, and most of those came when Adrian Peterson got hurt in 2011.
Despite the small sample size, general manager David Caldwell saw fit to hand Gerhart a mid-level contract and effectively the starting running back job. Here are some of Gerhart’s statistics from his first 4 seasons in the NFL.
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Gerhart clearly did his best work in 2011 when he got significantly more playing time after Peterson’s injury. In 2011, Gerhart averaged over 4.8 yards per carry when he was given at least 10 rushing attempts. Accustomed to being the primary back, Gerhart appears to need the reps to get into a groove and be effective. Gerhart isn’t like most of the 3rd down/scatbacks in the NFL who can be effective with limited carries – he needs to be more involved with the offense.
Gerhart has also been fairly effective catching balls out of the backfield – something he will be doing a lot of, particularly whenever Blake Bortles is pushed into the lineup.
Gerhart’s situation has been most often compared to Michael Turner in 2008. After spending 4 years in San Diego behind LaDanian Tomlinson’s shadow, Turner went to Atlanta in 2008 and had 1741 rushing yards on 394 carries. It’s unlikely Gerhart will match such gaudy numbers, but he should have a very productive campaign in Jedd Fisch’s offense.
2014 Statistical Projections: 285 carries, 1340 yards rushing, 8 rushing TDs, 45 receptions, 375 yards, 3 receiving TDs
– Daniel Lago