I have to admit I didn’t think the Jaguars would be looking to replace Leonard Fournette in the starting lineup, not yet. While I expected the Jaguars to consider taking a running back of the future at some point on day two or three of the draft, I didn’t think that running back would be potentially thrust into a starting role from day one. But with the news that the Jaguars are engaging in trade talks regarding Fournette, that is precisely where we stand.
Fournette is one of the last holdovers from the 2017 AFC Championship squad and is unlikely to play another down in a Jaguars uniform.
I can’t blame the Jaguars for wanting to get a head start on replacing Fournette. He’s entering the last year of his rookie deal, and while he was the fourth overall pick in 2017, he hasn’t lived up to his draft status and is not the type of runner that deserves a big second contract.
Luckily for the Jaguars, there are more than a handful of runners who project to be starters sooner rather than later. Jacksonville currently has 12 draft picks and could have more on the way if they find trade partners for Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue.
The Jaguars could undoubtedly take a running back at 20, but I’d advise against it. With a deep class of runners and plenty of other needs, the Jaguars should wait to address the position until day two. But if Dave Caldwell and company are interested in a running back in the first round, they’d probably be looking at D’Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor.
In the second round, Jacksonville could probably add guys like Clyde Edwards-Helaire or JK Dobbins. Waiting a little bit later, Antonio Gibson or Cam Akers could be in play. Even beyond that, there are players like Lamical Perine, Darrynton Evans, Eno Benjamin, Zack Moss, and more.
With a plethora of options, the Jaguars should be able to land a quality back that can, at the very least, compete with Roc Armstead for the starting job from day one.
How would I play it? Glad you asked.
I’d look to land Antonio Gibson or Cam Akers in the mid to late second or early third round. Both players are powerful, explosive runners that can contribute right away in the passing game.
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