The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a handful of things to be optimistic about so far 2 weeks into the regular season, probably none more encouraging than the play of 2nd round pick T.J Yeldon.
Expected to be the primary back at some point this year, Yeldon has taken control of the lead running back role and looks like he could have a great season. The offensive line hasn’t done him many favors, often allowing free rushers into the backfield before Yeldon can even get to the line of scrimmage, but Yeldon has done a good job of making something out of nothing on several plays.
Yeldon’s traditional statistics aren’t very impressive (121 yards on 37 attempts), but the advanced metrics folks at Pro Football Focus have taken note of his efforts and ranked him number 2 among all rookies through 2 weeks:
"2. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jaguars (+2.7)Only six running backs in the NFL have played more snaps than Yeldon, and none of them have earned as high a grade. He’s becoming a guy who is taking pressure off of QB Blake Bortles well."
The only rookie ranked ahead of Yeldon is – sadly – Atlanta Falcons pass rusher Vic Beasley. It’s neither here nor there, but it’s a tad depressing to think the Jaguars could have had Beasley in the first round and Yeldon in the 2nd round. It’s not at all a knock on Dante Fowler Jr. since it’s ridiculous to blame anyone for his freak knee injury, it’s just unfortunate that the Jaguars aren’t getting any impact from a first round pick this season.
Regardless, it’s nice to see some returns from Yeldon so early in the season. Once the offensive line gels a little more and all the starters get back, it’s reasonable to expect Yeldon to get even better and start having stat lines more representative of his talent and performance.
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