Do the Jaguars Need an Upgrade at Running Back?


The Jacksonville Jaguars put together one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2014, and there were several reasons for their consistent struggles on that side of the ball. A rookie quarterback who came out of a spread offense, 3 rookie wide receivers starting at various points during the year, two mid-to-late round rookies starting on the offensive line, and a second year running back converting from college quarterback taking a majority of the snaps in the backfield.

The last one is interesting predicament to analyze, because Denard Robinson walked into a more prominent role after what was a disappointing start to the season for much-heralded free agent signing Toby Gerhart. After sustaining what appeared to be a serious leg injury in week 1, Gerhart was ineffective through the first half of 2014, and Robinson emerged as a legitimate starting running back. Gerhart gained some momentum at the end of the year, but certainly not enough to warrant handing him the starting job in 2015.

So should the Jaguars look at adding another back this offseason? Robert Brewer over at NFL Spin Zone thinks so, and he has a pretty radical suggestion – taking Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon with the 3rd overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.

"I think the Jags should take a long hard look at former University of Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon III…Not only does Gordon possess the necessary talent of a top three pick, but he also fills a huge need for the Jaguars as well. As a team, the Jaguars rushed for just 1,633 yards this past year, good for 21st in the NFL. Former college quarterback Denard Robinson was the team’s leading rusher with a paltry 582 yards while rookie quarterback Blake Bortles was second on the team in rushing with 419 yards. I think it’s safe to say that Gordon would be a major upgrade over any of Jacksonville’s current options in the backfield.If a top quarterback like Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston is still available when Jacksonville is on the clock, the Jags could possibly trade down and still nab Gordon later in the first round. However, I would have no problem with Jacksonville if they stay put at number three and select their running back of the future."

I’ll just go ahead and say it – this is complete and utter lunacy. The idea that ANY running back, let alone someone who might not even be evaluated as a first round pick, is worth taking in the top 3 of a draft is nonsensical. The top 3 rushers in 2015 were selected in the 3rd (DeMarco Murray) and 2nd (LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell) round of the draft. There is almost no justification for taking a running back in the first round of a draft given the current makeup of the NFL. The fact that the Jaguars will almost certainly have the chance to draft Gordon with their pick in the second round makes the suggestion to take him at number 3 borderline criminal.

All that taken into consideration, the Jaguars shouldn’t even consider investing that kind of draft capital into the running back position. Denard Robinson played like a top 10 running back when he was healthy, and Toby Gerhart showed some life near the end of the season. The Jaguars have two viable options at running back right now, and they still have yet to see if Storm Johnson can make an impact. There is no reason to look at a running back in the first two days of the draft, let alone the first round.