Toby Gerhart doesn’t strike fans as the type of running back who would be a good receiver out of the backfield. He looks and moves far more like the workhorse back the Jacksonville Jaguars expected him to be.
The Jaguars discovered that he most certainly is not the workhorse they hoped he would be.
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But Toby Gerhart is has surprises up his sleeve. One of those, is his ability to receive out of the backfield.
Now, don’t go thinking the Jaguars suddenly have a Darren Sproles on their hands. They don’t. Gerhart is a truck compared to the sports car Sproles. Gerhart’s body of work receiving is also a lot smaller than a Sproles-type player.
Yet Gerhart has shown that he can be a quality receiver for Blake Bortles when he needs a safety valve. Gerhart has just 12 receptions so far this season but they’ve come from just 13 targets (92% caught, good for fifth best in the league among backs with more than 10 targets). Further, he’s amassed an impressive 158 yards after the catch on those receptions, good for the top spot among running backs in yards after the catch per reception at 13.2. In fact, he’s ever so slightly higher (.2 of a yard) than the aforementioned Sproles in that statistic.
These numbers may surprising for many of us who associate Gerhart with meager gains (or losses) and inconsistency.
No matter how surprising they are, these numbers warrant further exploration as Gerhart’s consistency and ability to produce per catch are impressive.
The Jacksonville Jaguars need to take a look at what he can do out of the backfield more. While I’m a big fan of feeding Denard Robinson more, if Gerhart’s numbers are more than just a fluke he could become an important player for Blake Bortles through the final six games of the season without go-to receiver Allen Robinson. He may not get the targets like Robinson, but he could definitely become an important safety valve as the young quarterback develops.
Thanks to Pro Football Focus for providing some good numbers that show Toby Gerhart is better than we expect.