The Jacksonville Jaguars will likely make Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawerence the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and if they want him to succeed they will need to add a few playmakers to their offense this offseason. Although they have a few building blocks, such as running back James Robinson and wide receivers DJ Chark Jr. and Laviska Shenault Jr., they need to get their franchise signal-caller as many weapons as they can. Thus, they should consider using a draft pick on Memphis running back Kenneth Gainwell.
Although Gainwell showed flashes of playmaking prowess as a freshman in 2018, it wasn’t until 2019 when he exploded into the college scene, racking up 231 carries for 1,459 yards and 13 touchdowns in 14 games. Moreover, he hauled in 51 receptions for 610 yards and three touchdowns.
After a successful campaign as a redshirt freshman, Gainwell opted out of the 2020 season and declared for the draft. A three-star prospect coming out of high school, the Mississippi native has super instincts, vision, and agility. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield and can line up in the slot.
Why the Jacksonville Jaguars should draft Kenneth Gainwell.
Gainwell may not fit the prototypical running back role. He’s not built to carry a heavy workload, lacks elite speed, and may struggle in pass protection. Nevertheless, he could be worth a pick a fourth or fifth-round selection if the Jaguars think they could make good use of his pass skills.
On the other hand, if the Jags drafted Gainwell would still need to add another running back via free agency or the draft. As much as their offense would welcome another weapon, they need to find a true backup for Robinson and could double dip and take two running backs in the draft. This is going to be a deep class and there will be plenty available in the later rounds, including Virginia Tech’s Khalil Herbert.
On the other hand, Jacksonville could add a running back like James Conner in free agency, and draft Gainwell if they have already addressed other roster needs. He may not be a three-down back, but that doesn’t mean the Jaguars should take him off their draft board.