Jaguar's Organized Team Activities or OTA’s for short begin today, May 26. There are many position battles to keep an eye on. Who will win the starting free safety job? Veteran, Sergio Brown or rookie, James Sample? Who will be the Jaguar's three starting line backers? Paul Pozlusny, Telvin Smith and … ? Will the incumbent starting left guard, Zane Beadles, be able to hold off Rookie, A.J. Cann? At Generation Jaguar, we think one position battle stands out amongst the rest, and that is the battle for the starting running back position.
BY JORDAN DE LUGO
Last year the Jaguars signed Toby Gerhart to a deal, hoping that he would be their bell cow, but injuries and a lack of production led the Jaguars to look for other solutions. This opened the door for second year running back, Denard Robinson, who was able to take advantage of his opportunity in a big way. Prior to his foot Injury late in 2014, Robinson was having a break out year; Averaging 4.3 yards per carry and over one 4 game stretch, he ran for 389 yards and 4 touchdowns. For a player who was only in his second season of actually playing running back, he was highly impressive. Despite having one of the worst offensive lines in football last year, Robinson was able to show promise, displaying showed vision, acceleration, and power. One of the concerns about Robinson was his size, but he showed the ability to fall forward and not take huge hits. Despite the impressive sophomore season by Robinson, the Jaguars still felt they needed to address the running back position this offseason.
They did so by selecting a running back with their second round pick. With the 36th pick in the 2015 draft the Jaguars selected T.J. Yeldon from Alabama. Yeldon is a household name for college football fans. He was a dominant player at Alabama, rushing for over 3,000 career yards and 39 total touchdowns. Despite his production, there were still doubters coming into the draft; some claimed that he ran too upright and some pointed to his fumbling of the ball. Despite these issues the Jaguars were excited to draft him with their second round pick. In fact, Coach Gus Bradley commented on both days of Rookie Mini Camp that Yeldon stood out. He shows great vision, patience and has a surprising burst.
So which player will win the starting job? The answer is still unknown. Robinson, despite being the veteran, actually has less experience and perhaps has more room to grow as a running back, as he played quarterback until coming to the Jaguars in 2013. He has break away speed and is electric on the field and in the locker room. Yeldon is the more polished and a natural runner of the ball. He has played the position for much longer than Robinson and excels in pass protection and receiving out of the back field. He has natural vision and will likely be a starter for a long time in the NFL. At this point the answer is unclear as to who will start the season. I believe that Yeldon will “start”. I put this in quotations because I think both running backs will get their fair share of carries. Yeldon is more polished and can do all the things a running back is asked to do in the Jaguar's offense. My heart says Robinson, but my head says Yeldon. What do you think?
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