With Chris Ivory recently signing a 5 year over 30-million dollar contract, the running back position is getting crowded. Ivory is going to split carries with T.J. Yeldon when the season start but with Gerhart being released and Jonas Gray, Denard Robinson, Joe Banyard, and Corey Grant still on the roster, who’s the next odd man out. Here is a case for each running-back to be kept this off-season…
Jonas Gray signed with the Jags last season after multiple injuries crippled the run game late in the season. He showed great potential later in the season when given a reasonable amount of carries, Gray was the one who kick started the almost come-back against the NO Saints. Jonas is a downhill runner, having the ability to push his way through the trenches and the speed to get out of the second level in a hurry. I like him as a runner and he even had that 200/yard+ game with the Patriots in 2014 that shows he can have mega production. He isn’t a violent runner like Ivory is, he’s more of a smooth runner which allows him to stay in a game longer. I’m not saying Gray is better than Chris but I still really like Jonas. Expect him to be competing for that 3rd man spot beginning of next year.
I’ve always loved Denard. In 2014 he showed he was ready for a bigger load and produced very well during the 2015 season. Robinson averaged 4.5 yards per carry which was highest on the team even above Yeldon who had a 4.1 average. But in the end, Denard’s main problem from 2014 showed up again late in the season, durability. His promising 2015 season will really only be remembered by the 4 fumbles he had that honestly cost us games. My personal opinion is that it wasn’t all his fault, in fact most of it wasn’t his fault. Every Denard Robinson fan knows he shouldn’t be used as a “bell-cow” back and yet the Jags used him as one. Gray or Gerhart should have taken over with Robinson inflicting damage as a change of pace back where he could and HAS excelled. Really Caldwell brought the drought in the run game after T.J. on himself, Denard didn’t. Now i’m not saying it’s ok for him to fumble, shame on him for fumbling, I’m just saying the Jags could have handled the situation better. This situation will be interesting to watch this off-season, definitely keep an eye on it.
Grant is another Denard Robinson like case, a change of pace back with speed. Except Grant is the fastest person on the Jaguars roster. His promise early on in the 2015 season was overshadowed by his fumbles against the Buccaneers. Grant tried to make a comeback and perform at a high level again but got injured mid way through the season, Corey was soon placed on IR and didn’t play another snap. He has unlimited potential as a change of pace, he showed that against the redskins when he ran for 40 yard gains twice in the 3rd/Quarter. A 4.27 forty time is something special, expect Caldwell to give him a fair chance to get the starting kick returner spot back next season. Possibly some reps at running-back?
Joe is curious situation, he took the league by storm in Minnesota during the 2014 pre-season but was surprisingly cut before the regular season. The Jags signed him instantly to add substantial depth to their running back stable. When T.J. Yeldon got hurt late last year, people turned their head to Joe, expecting him to become the main back. For unknown reason’s, he never saw the field even, when Caldwell would show impressed after his performances in practice. Banyard is a balanced back with not too much speed or too much power, expect him to remain just “depth” until the time is right.
2016 NFL draft
Kelvin Taylor, Kenneth Dixon, Daniel Lacso, Kieth Marshall, Aaron Green, and Tre Madden are all promising half-back prospects that could be found in rounds 6-7. Just great insurance encase something goes honorably wrong:)