Jaguars RB rotation fails to crack top 10 of USA Today's ranking ahead of 2023 season

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands off the ball to running back Travis Etienne.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) hands off the ball to running back Travis Etienne. / Bob Self / USA TODAY NETWORK

Running back is one of the most stacked position groups on the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster after adding D'Ernest Johnson and Tank Bigsby in the offseason. With Travis Etienne leading the way in 2023, the Jags' rushing attack should be among the best in the league but Christian D'Andrea of USA Today doesn't think it was good enough to crack the top 10 in his ranking.

D'Andrea ranked all running back rotations in the league and placed Jacksonville at No. 11, noting that Etienne lived up to his draft billing last year and Bigsby is an explosive runner with red-zone potential.

"Etienne showed out in his long-awaited rookie season — his 263 RYOE ranked second to only Chubb last season. Hasty is a useful backup and Bigsby is a wild card — a strong, explosive runner who could get the ball at the goal line. "

Etienne, a first-round pick in the 2021 draft, missed his rookie season after suffering a Lisfranc injury in the preseason but he bounced back last year and put on display the game-changing skills that made him one of the top collegiate running backs during his stint at Clemson.

If you're wondering how valuable the Louisiana native was for the Jaguars last year, look at this clip of him moving the chains on fourth-and-1 with the game on the line against the Los Angeles Chargers in Super Wild Card Weekend.

JaMycal Hasty will have to fend off Hasty and Johnson in training camp but he won't give up the RB2 job without a fight. Last year, he showed he could break off long runs when he scored a 61-yard touchdown run against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6.

Johnson brings ample experience at running back but he can also contribute on special teams, so he should have a favorable shot at making the Jaguars' 53-man roster. If he can average 5.2 yards like he did on limited duty for the Cleveland Browns, it will be hard not to give him carries next season. Then, there's Bigbsy, who could also get lots of playing time as a rookie.

Given how loaded the Jags' running back room is, sophomore Snoop Conner may be a victim of the numbers game but he'll have the chance to show out in training camp before the Jags potentially pull the plug on him.

The Jacksonville Jaguars RB rotation is among the top 10 in the league

The Jaguars don't have the best running back group in the NFL but it should be good enough to be among the 10 best. Here are the ones De'Andrea thinks are better in ascending order.

  • Chicago Bears
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Buffalo Bills
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • Detroit Lions
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons had the third-best rushing attack in the league last year and they added a generational talent in Bijan Robinson in the draft, so them seizing the top spot seems fair. Similarly, Christian McCaffrey enjoyed a career revival after being traded to the San Francisco 49ers and he should continue thriving in 2023. However, the rest of the teams in D'Andrea's top 10 will enter the season with lots of questions.

Can Jonathan Taylor (Colts) regain his place as the top running back in the league? Will Derrick Henry finally show signs of declining after carrying the Titans on his shoulder for the last five years? Also, are Kenneth Walker III and Khalil Herbert objectively better than Etienne? Granted, this is a ranking of running back rotations but having a proven starter should carry some weight.

In the end, there's not much the Jacksonville Jaguars and running back can do right now but they'll have the chance they were overlooked in the ranking once the regular season starts.

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