When we started our roster analysis of the Jacksonville Jaguars, we began with the offensive line since it has been one of the most discussed position groups all offseason. Probably the second most discussed, aside from quarterback, has been the running back position. LSU running back and eventual first round pick, Leonard Fournette, had been mocked to the Jaguars in the 2017 NFL Draft for seemingly forever, and sure enough they drafted him.
So, lets take a look at what the Jaguars have on the roster. For this discussion, we will include fullbacks with the running back group.
What do the Jaguars have?
With the addition of Fournette, the Jaguars actually have a decent backfield, as far as variety and depth. They have another bruiser running back in Chris Ivory, who dealt with injuries last season after being signed in free agency. Yeldon has been a solid third down back, despite overall being a disappointment, and offers something as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Corey Grant has homerun speed and flashed ability to run between the tackles towards the end of last season. The team also signed fullback Tommy Bohanon and drafted fullback Marquez Williams and picked up undrafted free agents Tim Cook and I'Tavius Mathers.
Leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft, there were many arguments of how much the Jaguars actually needed to invest in the running back position. Should they spend their No. 4 overall pick or should they pick a different position that high and then pick up a running back in the second or third round. Either way, the Jaguars were going to add a back this offseason.
How much are the Jaguars spending?
(via Spotrac, not including Leonard Fournette's salary, since he has not signed yet)
As you can see, the Jaguars already have a lot invested in the running back position prior to drafting Fournette, which will undoubtedly spike this graph into probably the Top 5. With the big contract the team signed Chris Ivory to in free agency, it's no shock the team has invested a lot into the position over the past few years with minimal return. Consider the team signed Toby Gerhart in free agency, used a second round pick on T.J. Yeldon, spent on Ivory and then picked Fournette Top 5. That's a lot for such little return. Hopefully, that changes.
Projected running back rotation:
BASE DOWNS, Leonard Fournette: I would imagine on 1st-and-10 or base downs, Fournette will be the back in the backfield. Outside of him getting a breather, there's no reason for otherwise at this point, even if the play is something like a screen or a wheel out of the backfield. Fournette is your bell cow, so he's going to be there on base downs especially. His primary backup is likely going to be Chris Ivory, as they're pretty similar in style and you don't need to adjust much between plays to accommodate.
THIRD DOWNS, T.J. Yeldon: People have a high variance of opinions of Yeldon. Some people want him off the roster, some think he's very underrated. I'm of the thought that he's just fine as a depth player at the position who can fill in on third downs, since he's solid in pass pro and does a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield.
SHORT YARDAGE/GOAL LINE, Leonard Fournette and a fullback: You're probably going to use a fullback some on base downs and other situations, but when you need a yard or to punch it into the endzone, you want the big boys in the backfield. That means a fullback and either Fournette or Ivory.