T.J. Yeldon could be the lone reach for the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2015 NFL Draft. The second round running back is the bell cow they always wanted and they were more than happy to get him where they did. Still, many considered Yeldon a weaker option than some of the other running backs available in the second round and even into the third.
An unnamed NFC running backs coach even had Yeldon projected as a rotational back, saying, “For being a creative back, he has no juice to get away from anyone. He’s a rotational back. I wouldn’t take him any sooner than the 5th (round) because you can find guys like that all over the place.” That quote is taken directly from Yeldon’s draft profile at NFL.com and while it’s an indictment of the young running back, unnamed sources telling Lance Zeurlein what they think is very different from seeing the production on the football field.
The suggestion that Yeldon was a major reach for the Jaguars continues to pop up from time to time and it likely won’t go away until Yeldon puts up some solid numbers in his first NFL season.
To the credit of the Jaguars’ front office, they knew that they wanted T.J. Weldon to be a Jacksonville Jaguar and they weren’t afraid to pull the trigger. The emphasis on the running game is expected for the Jaguars in year three of their roster overhaul (though it was expected last season as well) and general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley were giddy with excitement at being able to take Yeldon at the top of the second. Bradley wants the emphasis on the running game to permeate the entire team. He wants the players to understand and feel the transition to an offensive system that is more balanced.
Personally, I think the Jaguars are more than capable of moving to a more run-centric team. This isn’t just because I trust the Jaguars’ front office more than an unnamed NFC running backs coach, but because of the talent that they have brought in. Blake Bortles is a more respected quarterback than the statistically better Chad Henne, Toby Gerhart may finally be healthy at the running back position, Denard Robinson showed he’s more than just an offensive wrinkle in a big year at running back, and the team finally has an offensive line to lean upon.
Expect T.J. Yeldon and the Jags to find a sweet balance for the offense in 2015. Until we see something to suggest otherwise, don’t worry about thoughts of him being a fifth rounder or otherwise.
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