In an attempt to predict the Jacksonville Jaguars 53 man roster, the crew here at Locked On Jaguars is breaking down each position group as we get ready for the team’s mini camp. On Monday, we covered the quarterbacks, which you can check out here.
Today we will cover the team’s running back depth chart. Pretty much, all you need to know is that Leonard Fournette’s work load is likely to increase in his sophomore campaign, as he carried the ball only 268 times (albeit, in 13 games) in his rookie season. I’d expect that number to increase significantly with Chris Ivory off the roster and Fournette being healthy entering the season.
Fournette had a very good rookie season, despite receiving mixed reviews from analysts. He finished the year with 1040 yards and 9 TDs, as well as 36 receptions for 302 yards and a receiving touchdown. Many analysts and football folks were quick to note he only averaged 3.9 yards per carry, but when looking at the context behind his low YPC, that statistic is proven to be flawed, and shouldn’t be used against him when grading his rookie season performance.
With an improved interior offensive line, where the Jaguars ran the ball on 64% of carries last year, Fournette is poised to have his name near the top of the NFL’s 2018 rushing leaders. The team signed All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell to a five year, $66.5 million contract in free agency and drafted NC State OL Will Richardson in the fourth round, who will likely compete for the right guard position this year.
Fournette is the Jaguars offense’s silver lining, as they are a heavy power-run team, but who else will make the roster to provide depth and change the pace of the run game from time to time?
Projected running back depth chart
*Note: Italics = starter
RB: Leonard Fournette, T.J. Yeldon, Corey Grant
FB: Tommy Bohanon
Unlike last year where they carried four running backs, I project the Jaguars to kick off the 2018 season with only three RBs on the roster. Coming off of a 253 yard, two touchdown season as Fournette’s primary backup, T.J. Yeldon is the incumbent #2 on the running back depth chart. He provides a presence in the pass game as well, both as an extraordinary blocker and a solid receiver. Head coach Doug Marrone had this to say of Yeldon after an OTA workout the other day:
I think T.J. [Yeldon] gives you the best of both worlds a little bit. He has looked good out there. Yesterday, he made an excellent cut to set up a free hitter. A safety that was in the box set him up and then scooted inside. That is the kind of things you’re looking to see.
Marrone went on to say he’d “wouldn’t have a problem” with Yeldon carrying the load if Fournette goes down with an injury, noting he has carried the ball 15-20 times per game in the past.
Corey Grant’s role will likely increase as well with Ivory off the roster and moving up the RB3. He has maily been a special teams contributor and trick play extraordinare during his three seasons with the team, but has quietly received 68 handoffs for 414 yards and three touchdowns. Grant offers speed that neither backs ahead of him possess, and can be the true change-of-pace back in certain situations. He signed a second-round tender with the team, worth about $2.9 million in 2018.
As for fullback, there has been no competition brought in to compete with 2017 starter Tommy Bohanon. Unless the Jaguars like a running back or tight end enough to warrant keeping him on the roster but want to try him at fullback, Bohanon will remain the team’s starter.
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