Most years I would respond to this question with a resounding "No!"
But this year might be different.
Historically, when the Jaguars are at their best they've had at least one good to great running back on their roster. From the greats, Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, to the guys that were just "good" like Natrone Means, James Stewart, and Greg Jones, the Jaguars have always had talent at running back when they've made the playoffs.
The Jaguars currently have two running backs who most thought could be an impressive duto heading into 2016. Well, that could not have been further from the truth. Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon were perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the Jaguars offense in 2016. They dealt with injuries all year long and rarely got on track for a full drive, much less a full game. The guys behind them on the depth chart don't inspire much confidence either. Denard Robinson will always be a backup, and while Corey Grant has eye popping speed, his ability to start and stop leaves a lot to be desired.
So, in my estimation, the Jaguars could use a major upgrade at running back to help get this offense kick started in 2017. They don't need another good running back, or a guy they think might be able to carry the load for a season or two. No . . . what the Jaguars need is a bell cow; what they need is the next great Jaguars running back.
That leads us to the fourth overall pick. It is widely believed that running backs can be found later in the draft than the first round or even in undrafted free agency, and recent history proves that theory correct. However, there are two running backs at the top of this draft that project to be work horses for years to come.
Leonard Fournette is considered by many to be an even greater running back prospect than Todd Gurley was when he came out of Georgia in 2015. The true junior from LSU has the size (6'1'' tall and 235 lbs.) and the speed (he's expected to run a 4.4 second 40 yard dash) that has NFL scouts and executives drooling. Not only does he have a ridiculous size and speed combo, but Fournette has a natural feel for the game and mega production in college. In only 32 collegiate games Fournette racked up 4,356 yards from scrimmage, 41 total touchdowns, and averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Now, Fournette is not without some warts. He has dealt with the injury bug quite a bit in 2016, and when facing Alabama, the most talented defense in college football, Fournette regularly looked pedestrian. He also is more fast than quick - he doesn't appear to accelerate like some of the elite backs in football.
If we head 440 miles east to Tallahassee, we find a running back prospect that is drawing nearly as much interest as Fournette. Dalvin Cook, the true Junior from Florida State, is creating quite a buzz himself. Cook capped off his stellar college career with a standout performance against one of the best defenses in college football. He ran all over the yard in the Orange Bowl against John Harbaugh and his Michigan Wolverines. Cook finished the game with 145 yards rushing and a TD on 20 carries - that's over 7 yards per carry! He also chipped in three catches for 62 yards. Cook doesn't have the size of Fournette, but his size and strength combo is nothing to scoff at. Cook stands 6' tall and weighs in at about 215 lbs. Cook has an almost uncanny ability to find the open field and is incredibly hard to bring down once he is in the open field. He plays with a fire in his belly and, similar to Fournette, he can run past, or even through defenders. Cook is also expected to run somewhere in the 4.4 second range in the 40 yard dash, but I'll bet that he finishes with a much better 10 yard burst than does Fournette. On top of everything else Cook is a stellar receiver and has even shown the ability to line up at wide receiver. Cook's final college stats are even more eye popping that Fournette's. In the same time frame Cook wound up with 5,399 total yards, 48 total touchdowns, and averaged 6.5 yards per carry.
So which one makes more sense for the Jaguars? It's hard to say. Both players are worthy and capable of playing in any offensive system. However, if the Jaguars new offensive philosophy is to spread teams out then Cook would make more sense, while if the Jagaurs want to establish themselves as a physically dominant team in 2017 and beyond then Fournette might make more sense.
So, should the Jaguars absolutley take a running back at number four?
The Jaguars could use some more pass rush and there are three guys at the top of the draft that would greatly help any team's pass rush. It also needs to be pointed out that Ivory and Yeldon are not without talent, they could certainly be more serviceable than they were in 2016. However, if the Jaguars want to get back to their glory days, aquiring one of these elite running backs could be one of the more prudent ways of doing so.
No matter who is running the ball for the Jaguars in 2017, they'll need more help up front from the offensive line than was offered in 2016.
Now to make you salivate even more, here is some game footage from both guys.
For what it's worth I would be happy with either runner, but Dalvin Cook's versatility makes me lean a little bit more towards him.
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