Jacksonville Jaguars position-by-position breakdown: Running Back

JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 07: Quarterback Blake Bortles
JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 07: Quarterback Blake Bortles /

Part two of breaking down each positional group for the Jacksonville Jaguars heading into 2018.

Next up in the positional analysis of the Jacksonville Jaguars is the running back spot. Running back is a critical area for the Jaguars. Jacksonville is a run-first team at its core, and that was evident in 2017.

The Jaguars finished with the number one ranked rushing game in the league last season, averaging over 141 yards a game on the ground.

Moving ahead to 2018, let’s examine how the position looks right now, and what could change as the season hits:

As it stands right now

Leonard Fournette, T.J. Yeldon, Chris Ivory, Corey Grant

After being selected fourth overall in 2017, Leonard Fournette was the feature back for the Jaguars in his rookie season, and showed the potential of being a top player in the league. Fournette amassed over 1,000 yards on the ground and scrored 13 touchdowns.

Chris Ivory was the first relief back behind Fournette for the majority of the season, but missed the final two games of the regular season. In the playoffs, Ivory had just one carry in the wild card round against the Buffalo Bills, and was a healthy scratch against both the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

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It was T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant that made substantial impacts in the postseason alongside Fournette. Yeldon had a rushing touchdown and 57 receiving yards in the divisional round in Pittsburgh. Grant, who was primarily a special teams guy before the playoffs, had 59 yards receiving against New England in the AFC Championship game.

What could happen for 2018

Leonard Fournette will obviously be back as the featured runner in 2018, and will only continue to get better. It’s the backs behind Fournette that will almost certainly get a shake-up.

The Jaguars will likely keep four backs on the roster again for next season, but it won’t be all four from 2017. After how last year ended and what each back brings to the table, the odd man out will presumably end up being Chris Ivory. Ivory faded as the season drew long, and both T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant have attributes Ivory is lacking. Yeldon is a superior pass protector, and he and Grant both are dangerous weapons in the receiving game, as seen in the playoffs.

The early prognostication for 2018: Fournette, Yeldon, and Grant return next season. Ivory gets released, and the Jaguars turn to free agency or a late-round draft pick to find the fourth guy in the stable.