Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars Position Preview: Running Back

The Jaguars took to free agency to bolster their backfield this offseason.

With a powerful passing attack that includes Blake BortlesAllen RobinsonAllen Hurns and Julius Thomas, the Jacksonville Jaguars can have a dominant offense with increased production from their running game.

In the 2015 draft, the Jaguars used the 36th pick to take former Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon. For most of the season, Yeldon carried the load on the ground, tallying 182 carries in 12 games. Denard Robinson's 67 carries, second-best on the team, were a far cry from the rookie's output.

While he showed flashes of excellence, Yeldon struggled to find running lanes at times, tallying over 100 yards just twice. In his 12 appearances, the rookie rushed for under 70 yards on nine occasions.

With Yeldon at the helm, the Jaguars struggled to gain any footing, finishing 27th in the NFL with 92.1 rushing yards per game.

But with a year under his belt, Yeldon could be poised to have a better season. The experience of an up-and-down year could give Yeldon the confidence he needs to increase production.

While the team has faith in Yeldon, the Jaguars signed veteran running back Chris Ivory in the offseason to add a set of reliable legs. In March, the former New York Jet signed a five-year contract worth $32 million.

The signing comes after Ivory had his most productive year statistically. For the Jets, Ivory ranked fifth in the NFL with 1,070 rushing yards, trailing the likes of rookie Todd Gurley and perennial powerhouse Adrian Peterson. His seven rushing touchdowns were the most in his six-year career.

The veteran is more of a bruiser than Yeldon, which bodes well for the Jaguars. Yeldon had trouble getting in the end zone a year ago, scoring only twice on the ground and once through the air. His first rushing score came in his sixth game. 

Ivory will look to provide red zone production that the Jaguars severely lacked from the running back position in 2015. He will compliment Yeldon, particularly as a hard-charging runner that's well suited for short, third-down situations.

The third piece to the puzzle is fourth-year running back Denard Robinson, who was serviceable in a minor role last season. The former Michigan quarterback totaled 266 yards on 67 carries, good for an average of four yards. The shifty runner had his best season in 2014, racking up almost 600 yards on 135 carries.

That same year, Robinson posted an impressive three-game stretch where he ran for 329 yards and two scores. Although his carries will be limited this year, the former Wolverine could serve as a change-of-pace back, or even work his way on to special teams. Opportunities will be scarce as the running back situation seems destined to be a two-man rotation.

In December, the Jaguars signed Jonas Gray off the Miami Dolphins' practice squad. In his two games with the team, Gray ran 14 times for 54 yards. The running back is best known for his time with the New England Patriots, where he ran for 201 yards and four touchdowns in a November 2014 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Notre Dame product won't see much action, but will provide added depth and experience if injuries occur.


Jaguars Forever Top Stories