Is Denard Robinson a Top-32 Running Back?


Denard Robinson is an intriguing offensive weapon for the Jacksonville Jaguars, enjoying flashes of exciting play during his short career. The converted quarterback is willing to put everything aside from his Michigan days to learn how to be an NFL-caliber running back and be a significant threat from that position for the Jags.

For a team with so few superstars, this important.

For a stretch of games in 2014, Robinson was among the best in the business. Then with a foot sprain early in December, he was out.

Now we can’t say for certain that Robinson was going to put up amazing numbers during those final three games (he had not surpassed 60 yards since week nine) but they certainly would have padded his overall yardage for the year making hi mid-season success look better overall, bolstering a decent campaign in 2014. Instead, Robinson finished with the 28th most rushing yards in the NFL among running backs.

By overall yardage, Robinson is easily in the top-32. Erik Lambert at NFL Mocks also agrees, saying:

"The former quarterback has a lot of value as a versatile weapon but his body doesn’t suggest he can handle the long-term wear and tear that comes with being a starter.  Hence the rumors the Jags are on the lookout for help at running back."

That long term wear and tear is critical for the Jaguars’ projections of the young “offensive weapon” with the team. Last season he finished the year with just 135 attempts (35th in the league).

The concern, however, did not stop Lambert from placing Denard Robinson at 25th among 32 NFL running backs. Despite not carrying the ball more than a significant number of running backs and despite not racking up massive amounts of yards, he’s on his list. He beat out backs Latavius Murray, Matt Asiata, Doug Martin, Devonta Freeman, Bishop Sankey, Branden Oliver, and Darren McFadden for the honor. All of those backs have had moments in their careers (and some even last season) where they are more explosive and more productive than Robinson.

While I believe Robinson can really dominate when he is on his game, he (like those he ranked above) needs to prove that he can be consistent and that he can be a reliable force for the Jaguars offense. If he doesn’t, then new FB/HB Toby Gerhart will have to be inserted again as an attempt at being a bell cow.

The Jaguars are looking to the 2015 NFL Draft for a solution to the running back position. With new roles for Gerhart and probably a moderately increased workload for Denard Robinson, expect the newcomer to be given every opportunity to be an important part of the offense. Seeing which of the two (the potential rookie addition and Robinson) can outbattle the other should be key for the success of the Jaguars.

After more reps and more production, we’ll be better able to measure and rank Denard Robinson in 2015.

Next: New Plans for Toby Gerhart

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