Jaguars roster: James Robinson ranked too low on recent RB1 list

Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson #30 (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)
Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson #30 (Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports) /

Running back James Robinson was a revelation for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020. That’s why it was surprising to see him ranked so low on a recent list. 

Head coach Urban Meyer wasn’t lying when he said on The Rich Eisen Podcast that the Jacksonville Jaguars didn’t start from ‘ground zero’ this offseason. They had a few playmakers in place last year, and running back James Robinson was one of those players.

Former Jaguar and analyst Maurice Jones-Drew of NFL Media recently ranked every number-one running back in the NFL and the Illinois State product landed at number 18. He says that Robinson has an explosive game and no shortage of creativity in the open field. Jones-Drew later notes that if the former Redbird weren’t sharing the backfield with rookie Travis Etienne, he would easily place him in the top 12. He goes on to wonder who will get more touches this upcoming season.

For context, Jones-Drew ranked Clyde Edwards-Helaire of the Kansas City Chiefs one spot ahead of Robinson while rookie Najee Harris landed at 16. Austin Ekeler and Cam Akers popped up at 15 and 14, respectively. Are these running backs better than Robinson? Probably not. The Illinois native had a better year statistically speaking than all of them in 2020 (Harris wasn’t in the NFL yet).

The Jacksonville Jaguars will try to manage James Robinson’s load.

Jones-Drew says that he would’ve ranked Robinson higher if he weren’t sharing the workload with Etienne but that’s arbitrary. Is he grading players based on their role they will have or had with their respective teams? If that’s the case, why did he place Nick Chubb at number five? He’s also sharing the backfield with Kareem Hunt and he wasn’t penalized for it. There’s no doubt Chubb is better than Robinson but it looks like Jones-Drew didn’t use the same criteria when evaluating him. Otherwise, the Jaguars’ running back might’ve ranked higher on the list.

Regardless of Jone-Drew’s opinion, Robinson will still have a heavy workload, just not as big as last year’s. Etienne may be a better player down the road, and he has a higher ceiling as a receiver. Nevertheless, Robinson showed in 2020 that he can get it done, totaling 1,1414 yards from scrimmage, the most for an undrafted rookie. He’s still the number-one running back in Jacksonville. That could change later in the season but he will most likely start in Week 1.

Using the 25th overall pick on Etienne was puzzling. It’s usually not a good idea to take a running back in the first round, especially when there are always quality players in later rounds or even after the draft ends. Nevertheless, the Jaguars believe the Clemson product can give develop into a dual-threat in the NFL.

If Etienne does turn out to be a playmaker, not many will question Jacksonville’s decision to draft him. For the time being, the jury is still out and Robinson is still the Jaguars’ starting running back. He may not have gotten a good spot on Jones-Drew ranking but he will still have an important role in Duval.

Next. 53-roster projection ahead of training camp. dark