The Jaguars signed a former division rival on Monday, adding Alfred Blue to their running back room. The former Houston Texans runner has no shortage of experience and adds valuable depth to one of the most injury prone positions in football. The deal will be for just one year and will have little impact on the salary cap.
Blue has never eclipsed 700 yards rushing in a season and has only averaged over 4 yards per carry once in his professional career. But since 2014, when the Texans drafted him in the sixth round, Blue has been a steady contributor. He's played in at least 14 games in four of his five professional seasons and has found the endzone ten times.
Doug Marrone has often referred to the adage that "the best ability is availability" and perhaps that's one aspect to consider when examining this signing. The Jaguars current group of running backs doesn't have the best track record with staying healthy. Blue helps in that regard. But he also adds a quality pass blocker to the team. TJ Yeldon was the Jaguars primary pass blocking back for the last several seasons. Now a free agent, the Jaguars needed to add another reliable pass blocker to their running back room. Over the previous four seasons, Blue has graded out as an above average pass blocker according to Pro Football Focus.
Another possible reason for the Jaguars interest in Blue? He went to the same college as Leonard Fournette and has a relationship with the Jaguars young runner. Blue may be able to provide some veteran leadership and be a mentor for Fournette.
Adding a healthy body, with a wealth of pass blocking experience, to a running back room that needed depth should be looked at as a win. But this should be far from the final move the Jaguars make at the position this offseason. With five picks in the top 100 of the upcoming draft, the Jaguars should look to add an all-purpose weapon at some point in the third round. There's a smorgasbord of talent at the position in this year's draft class. Leonard Fournette will be the feature back to start the season, but he's had trouble staying healthy. The recently signed Alfred Blue, and running backs David Williams and Thomas Rawls all provide depth, but for the Jaguars to run the type of offense that will allow Nick Foles to thrive, investing further in the running back group should be a no brainer. They should likely also add a prospect or two via undrafted free agency, where there is sure to be some talented runners.
The running back position has been devalued dramatically around the NFL, which is why a player like Alfred Blue was still on the market. But for the Jaguars, who are desperate to get back to the playoffs in 2019, making sure the running back room is deep and talented is a must.
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