As the rain poured down on the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice fields last weekend, the Gus Bradley and the Jaguars' rookies were getting better. Well, that's the hope at least. Plenty of positives came out of Jaguars rookie minicamp, including the expected dominance of Luke Joeckel and Johnathan Cyprien. But the bigger story of the weekend was that two tryout players lived to fight another day.
Akron defensive end J.D. Griggs and San Jose State running back De'Leon Eskridge both signed with the team after standing out in the three minicamp practices. If nothing else, this shows that Bradley and Caldwell are serious when they talk about creating competition and making roster moves. With each move, Caldwell's stamp on the roster gets stronger, and the competition gets tighter.
With so many new faces and way too much time between the next football activities, we're going to take a look at some of the Jaguars rookies and what they bring to the table. Let's start with Eskridge.
De'Leon Eskridge | Running back | San Jose State | 5'11, 215 pounds
Senior Stats: 207 carries, 1,025 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns, 28 catches, 156 yards
What he does well:
First and foremost Eskirdge fits the zone blocking scheme that the Jaguars will be implementing. He has the vision to find running lanes and the no-nonsense attitude to hit the hole with authority and pick up a few yards on every play. He makes one strong cut and goes. While he's not one to bust off a ton of big runs, Eskridge is always falling forward. That's partly due to his vision, partly due to his decisiveness and largely due to his size and physical running style.
Maybe the bigger reason Eskridge stuck with the team is his skill as a pass blocker. He showed the instincts and physicality needed to excel in that area in the games I watched of him. The play that stuck out in my mind was when Eskridge was in the open field, one-on-one with BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and executed a picture perfect cut block. That is a skill that will always translate in the NFL and earn a young running back the good graces of his coaching staff.
What he doesn't bring to the table
Eskridge is not necessarily a homerun hitter. He runs in the 4.6 range in the 40-yard dash, and that's the speed he plays with on the field. Simply put, he doesn't have the burst or the speed to rip off huge chunks of yardage unless given a sizable hole. He also isn't particularly shifty, relying more on his vision and power than his ability to make people miss. Those two realities limit his upside, but he has some skills that will translate to the Jaguars offense.
Where does he fit into the Jaguars plans?
It's tough to say for sure what the Jaguars have planned with Eskridge. Short term, he is likely a practice squad player as a rookie. WIth Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Forsett and Denard Robinson entrenched atop the team's running back depth chart, Eskridge will need a few injuries to have a shot at seeing the field. But as we saw last year, depth at running back can be crucial, as injuries are all too common at the position. He's a depth player who brings competition at worst, and a solid fit for the scheme who could fill in in emergencies at best. Not a bad bargain for a tryout player.