Jacksonville Jaguars Rookie Roster Battle – Running Back


The 2015 NFL Draft is under wraps and the Jacksonville Jaguars have 8 new players to show for it. Unfortunately, first round pick Dante Fowler Jr. will be sitting out the 2015 season with an unfortunate knee injury sustained during rookie mini-camp, but the Jaguars still have 7 new players who could contribute in 2015.

Over the past 2 seasons, draft selections came in with an almost guaranteed roster spot. In fact, most draft picks in 2013 and 2014 had a clear path to the starting job. Thanks to sound drafting and quality free agent acquisitions, general manager David Caldwell finally has the roster in a respectable enough state that rookies need to come in and actually earn roster spots.

Consequently, in this series we’ll analyze each draft selection and see how the positional depth chart shakes out with their addition.

Let’s start off with perhaps the most exciting player from the 2015 class – running back T.J. Yeldon.

Here’s the running back depth chart heading into 2015, along with 2014 stats and grades from Pro Football Focus.

[table id=48 /]

Oct 26, 2014; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back

Denard Robinson

(16) carries the ball against the Miami Dolphins in the first quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Richard Dole-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars aren’t exactly blessed with productive running backs, as no one on the roster had a positive overall grade from Pro Football Focus in 2014. Robinson and Gerhart both had their moments last year, but neither player really showed enough to warrant a guaranteed starting job in 2015. Gerhart is reportedly going to have a more diversified role as a fullback/h-back, so his responsibilities are fairly defined.

That leaves Robinson, Johnson, and Pierce to fight off 2nd round pick T.J. Yeldon for the top running back spot. I think it comes down to Robinson and Yeldon, with Yeldon taking the starting job comfortably.

Yeldon should have absolutely no trouble getting used to the blocking scheme, as he is accustomed to a pro-style offense coming out of Alabama. He was insanely productive in college and he’s used to handling a bulk of the carries. I think Denard still finds a way to wrangle some carries, but I don’t think it’s going to be a 50/50 split with Yeldon.

As for Johnson and Pierce, I expect the Jaguars to stick with Storm if they only carry 4 backs on the roster.

2015 Running back depth chart

  1. T.J. Yeldon
  2. Denard Robinson
  3. Storm Johnson
  4. Toby Gerhart (H-back/fullback)
  5. Bernard Pierce

Next: Five players who need to step up

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