Although Yeldon was a productive collegiate, there are many who believe he could have been available 10 or even 20 picks later. As high as the Jaguars selected him, he will be expected to win the starting running back job.
We asked BamaMag.com's Kirk McNair, who covered every one of Yeldon's games what he thought of him.
There are analysts who think of T.J. Yeldon as a running back who has had problems holding on to the football, but others see a dependable player who was excellent in clutch situations for Coach Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide.
Scouts for the Jacksonville Jaguars presumably saw the 6-1, 226-pound T.J. Yeldon as a quality back, taking him with the fourth pick in the second round (36th overall). Alabama followers will remember Yeldon for plays such as the screen pass he took for a 28-yard touchdown with 51 seconds remaining in the game to beat LSU in Baton Rouge or his 21 carries for 108 yards in a 42-21 win over Notre Dame to win the 2012 national championship.
Jaguars Coach Gus Bradley said Yeldon “has great vision; really, really good instincts; great anticipation.”
Yeldon (who played three years at Bama before declaring for the draft} led his Daphne (Ala.) high school team to a state championship and was selected Mr. Football. He helped the Crimson Tide win two Southeastern Conference and one national title.
It is difficult to extrapolate college statistics into NFL success, but Yeldon’s Bama statistics are impressive. Playing in what is considered college football’s toughest league (and in the Western Division of the SEC, which is considered to be in a league of its own), Yeldon became the first back in Alabama history to rush for over 1,000 yards as a freshman and improved those numbers as a sophomore when he was the featured back. He is one of only six Alabama players to rush for over 3,000 career yards.
As a freshman, Yeldon played behind Eddie Lacy (who went on to be Rookie of the Year with the Green Bay Packers) and became the first Tide freshman to go over 1,000 yards with 175 carries for 1,108 yards (6.3 per carry) and scored 12 rushing touchdowns, tying the Alabama freshman record of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram.
His sophomore year in 2013 was his only year as the clear featured back and he rushed 207 times for 1,235 yards (6.0 per carry) with 14 touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 183 yards. In the SEC Championship Game against Georgia he had 25 rushes for 153 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run. He had eight runs for first downs and three carries for over 12 yards.
In his final Alabama season (starting, but splitting time with Derrick Henry) he had 194 carries for 979 yards (5.0 per carry) with 11 touchdowns and caught 15 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.
For his career, Yeldon had 576 rushes for 3,322 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and 37 touchdowns and caught 46 passes for 494 yards (10.7 per reception) and two TDs.
Yeldon is not the fastest back, but he has good speed and good quickness, athleticism, and the ability to make defenders miss him. He also is a very solid blocker.
The question of the day regarding running backs during the NFL draft seemed to be, “Can he be an every down back?” Although Yeldon had a few minor injury issues at Alabama (including a hamstring problem late last season), he was generally durable. Nick Saban gave him high marks for his off-season and practice work ethic. Playing at Bama means playing in a pro-style offense and he was a dependable third down runner.
The Jaguars hope that Yeldon can first and foremost stay healthy, then carry the load in the backfield to take pressure off second-year quarterback Blake Bortles.