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The Jacksonville Jaguars are primed for the most exciting season in franchise history. Man, does it feel good to say that!
Bleacher Report recently published a list of one player that each NFL team should trade.
Was it Gardner Minshew? Nah.
What about an offensive lineman? Nope.
It was James Robinson.
That’s right. Offensive Rookie Of The Year candidate James Robinson.
I’ll let Brad explain himself below and then we’ll get into why that’s... well... it’s not a very smart idea.
James Robinson was a surprise star as an undrafted rookie running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2020, but the team just used a first-round draft pick on potential superstar Travis Etienne and when you invest that heavily in a back these days, he’s gotta be the focal point.
So while we wouldn’t fault the Jags for keeping the extremely inexpensive Robinson around as an insurance policy for Etienne, a team still lacking depth and overall talent would be wise to shop him following a 1,000-yard, double-digit-touchdown maiden NFL campaign at age 22.
Robinson will likely only lose value moving forward simply because he won’t get as many opportunities to shine. Dealing him now would be an example of selling high, even if the return wouldn’t be epic because he’s got just one strong year under his belt at a devalued position.
Okay. Where to begin.
You need two running backs
The first point is fairly simple—there isn’t a more physically demanding skill position than running back. Gone are the days when the majority of running backs are getting even 70% of their team’s carries. You’ve got to have a stable of running backs who can keep each other fresh.
James Robinson succeeded last season in spite of the fact that they didn’t have a quality running back to spell him last year. Dare Ogunbowale had just 32 carries last season, barely more than Gardner Minshew who didn’t even play in seven of the team’s games.
That’s not to say Travis Etienne was drafted to spell James Robinson. I think Urban Meyer is going to take a true RB1A / RB1B approach and use them in different ways. More on that later.
Robinson’s carry percentage was too high
Piggy backing off of the last point, Robinson’s carry percentage of 86% was far too high. There isn’t a running back who rushed the ball more often for his team. Even Derrick Henry was further down the list at 82% and they were the only two running backs in the league who cracked 75% or more.
They have different skill sets
If you didn’t watch Clemson play last season, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s a significant overlap in what Etienne and Robinson excel at. But even just a few games of watching both and you’ll see they’re vastly different.
Etienne is an explosive downfield runner who will make defenders miss in the open field with his speed. He’ll also contribute as a receiver out of the backfield more successfully than Robinson. That’s not to say he’s good and Robinson is bad. Rather... Etienne is very good and why waste a good thing?
In comparison, Robinson has a great first burst that minimizes the number of times he’s caught in the backfield. He doesn’t get tackled for negative yards very often because his vision and straight ahead speed (not to mention his willingness to take a couple of free yards over trying to bounce it outside for a chance at more) makes him a great early-down option.
In conclusion, Brad, the Jaguars should keep both of them around. It’s not against the rules to have two good running backs.