After looking at the progress the Jacksonville Jaguars made on the first day of free agency, did this team do enough? Did they do enough to concentrate on drafting a bell cow running back with the No. 4 pick in the NFL Draft next month?
Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin and general manager David Caldwell focused on the team’s most pressing needs. In free agency, they came away with defensive end/edge rusher Calais Campbell and safeties AJ Bouye and Barry Church. The additions will solidify the NFL’s sixth-ranked defense from last season and give this team a much-needed boost.
Jacksonville did as much as any team to improve its roster heading into the NFL Draft. Now, the focus should shift to the offense and a running game that fell well below expectations last season.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks liked what the Jacksonville Jaguars did in free agency so far, which leads him to believe the Jaguars will covet a running back.
“The Jags put themselves in a position to grab a franchise running back at the top of the board to potentially spark a rise in 2017. With that veteran trio joining a unit that finished sixth in total defense, Jacksonville boasts a championship-caliber D — at least on paper, he explained.
“That said, the offense — particularly Blake Bortles — needs to improve dramatically to make a serious run at a playoff spot. To foster their QB1’s development, the Jaguars could add a franchise running back to alleviate some of the burden on Bortles to carry the team. After all, a strong running game is a young quarterback’s best friend.”
Fournette may be just what this team needs. The Dallas Cowboys used the fourth pick in the 2106 Draft to select Ezekiel Elliott. They rode him, helping to make the running game one of the best in the NFL. Fournette, a star at LSU, has that same kind of potential.
“If Fournette is aligned in the “dot” position behind Bortles, defenses will be forced to commit extra defenders to the box, leaving one-on-one coverage against Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns on the outside. Considering how easy it is for quarterbacks to complete throws against soft coverage on the perimeter, the addition of a dynamic back could help the Jaguars rise from the cellar to playoff contention, Brooks added.
The Jaguars drafted TJ Yeldon in the second round in 2015. They saw potential in the former Alabama star when he ran for 740 yards as a rookie. His second season wasn’t as successful, having shared the backfield with free agent signee Chris Ivory. With both tailbacks returning and a new philosophy on offense, will there be enough balls to carry in the Jaguars’ offense?
Fournette is viewed as the premier workhorse back in the 2017 draft class. The LSU standout is a rugged runner with an old-school game that mixes strength, power, explosiveness and violence. He excels at grinding out the tough yards between the tackles. Yet he also offers some home-run potential as a runner on the edges.
If the Jacksonville Jaguars bypass Fournette, there are other options for this offense. Florida State’s Dalvin Cook would also be a nice addition to the offense. The team could still grab a tailback in Round 2. Someone like Christian McCaffrey if he falls past the first round or someone like Alvin Kamara of Tennessee.