Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back future is young and full of promise

Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams (29) tackles New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Mike Adams (29) tackles New England Patriots running back Jonas Gray (35) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Jacksonville Jaguars need to revamp the running back position, but have tons of young talent already with the team that they could gamble on.

T.J. Yeldon was a workhorse in 2015 and looked every bit the stud running back the Jacksonville Jaguars hoped he would be when they drafted him in the second round.

Denard Robinson is still a shifty back with potential, though his recent fumble problems are a concern.

But beyond those two, what does the running back position offer the Jacksonville Jaguars? Does Toby Gerhart still have any value at all for the team? Is it time to blow it all up and start from scratch?

While the position clearly needs a revamp, the Jaguars quietly acquired some intriguing, talented young players in 2015 that have the potential to be the future of the position for the team.

Joe Banyard, Corey Grant, and Jonas Gray.

Those aren’t names that many people are going to be familiar with across the NFL, but they are all young running backs with some serious potential. Of the three, only Grant was around for a significant period of time with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015 but he couldn’t find the field due to injury.

Banyard was promoted to the active roster in late October after landing on the Jags’ practice squad following his departure from the Minnesota Vikings in the offseason.

Gray found his way to the Jags in December when the Jaguars desperately needed more help at the position.

So, what makes these players so intriguing?

Grant’s unimpressive 2015 season numbers aren’t going to offer any encouragement. He averaged .3 yards per attempt on six attempts in the season, despite having a long of 11 yards. He also wasn’t particularly inspiring as a kick returner, averaging 27.5 yards in eight returns.

But he is an explosive back who is still getting his feet wet at NFL game speed. He was particularly impressive in the preseason, especially as a returner. If he hadn’t landed on injured reserve in October, we could have seen him get many more opportunities and, hopefully, start to put something together. If the Jags keep him around this offseason, he’s one to watch as he has some potential to be a speedy back option.

Another preseason star was Joe Banyard with the Minnesota Vikings. Unfortunately, he saw himself cut as the Vikes trimmed down their roster. Banyard was inconsistent for the Vikes, but put together a decent case in the preseason, managing to score twice and finishing with a strong 26 yards on five attempt sin the final game. Like Grant, the potential is there but he’ll need time to develop.

For many observers of the Jaguars, Jonas Gray may be the most appealing option at running back among the three young players. Gray averaged 3.9 yards per carry for the Jaguars on 31 attempts, clearly establishing himself as competent when compared to fellow backup Toby Gerhart. Gray has been around the NFL for a few seasons and has a dominant 201 yard game on his resume, which makes eyes pop and always keeps people interested.

The real question for Gray is: can he do it again? Can he turn in another dominant performance if given the opportunities? Can he put it all together and be a consistent threat? He’s worth taking a look at.

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Whether the Jacksonville Jaguars decide to give these three players more opportunities to establish themselves or they decide to find a solution in the draft or free agency remains to be seen. To me, however, it’s worth keeping these unproven talents around to see what they can do. All three are capable of flashing, and the Jags would be wise to see if they can get some consistent play out of any of them and insert them more frequently into the lineup.