Recently, the Jaguars declined the fifth-year option of starting running back Leonard Fournette. Therefore the need to look to the team’s future became a priority. Shortly after the conclusion of 255 names called during the 2020 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars seized this opportunity. An opportunity that they hope will impact the present as well as the future in the offensive backfield. Running back James Robinson signed a three-year contract as an undrafted free agent for the Jaguars. He comes in with tremendous statistics that complement his new chip on his shoulder. Robinson is hungry and anxious to get to work in Jacksonville.
High School Royalty
In the state of Illinois, Robinson is a high school football legend. In four years at Rockford Lutheran High School, Robinson became the Illinois state high school all-time leading rusher with 9,045 yards. His 158 rushing touchdowns are near the top nationally all-time. He drew interest from a handful of Big Ten schools like Nebraska, Iowa, and Michigan State. However, he decided to stay closer to home and attend FCS (Football Championship Subseries) Illinois State.
Robinson impressed during his final two years at Illinois State. As a junior, he became a finalist for the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the FCS. With almost 1,300 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, Robinson was poised for a gigantic senior campaign.
And he delivered in 2019.
Robinson shouldered 364 carries for 1,917 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He was crowned as a selection on the Associated Press All-American team. Furthermore, he took the Redbirds on his back during an improbable run to the FCS Quarterfinals. During the playoffs, he racked up 601 yards in three games, including 297 yards in the first-round game.
After the season, Robinson was given an opportunity to shine during the East-West Shrine Game. And he did just that. He posted a 63-yard touchdown scamper along with two catches for 56 yards. A nice conclusion to a college career full of accolades and honors.
Three Concerns for Robinson
The biggest concern for him entering the NFL has got to be if there is enough tread on the tires. In the last two seasons for the Redbirds, Robinson had over 500 carries. Although this shows his durability, wear and tear cannot be ignored.
Secondly, he needs to get more comfortable running between the tackles. Robinson has a tendency to try and create a big play by bouncing outside. This will not fly against NFL defenses. Robinson will need to trust his lineman in order to have consistency with the ball in his hands.
Lastly, with his jump to the NFL, Robinson will need to adjust to the complex blitz packages. Robinson is a tough kid and he is fearless as a blocker. However, at Illinois State, he was not asked to do much blocking as the offense ran through him. If he is unable to grasp the blocking assignments, he will not be on the field.
What Can Jaguars Expect?
Robinson might not have the breakaway speed coveted by many teams. However, he brings something to the backfield that Leonard Fournette does not. Vision. Robinson is patient and anticipates running lanes, especially at the goal line. He has a nose for the endzone as proven by his 44 touchdowns at Illinois State.
Additionally, a blue-collar work ethic exists. His coaches praise his approach to the game. He is a student of the game and is always ready to improve. Although this offseason will be unlike none we have ever seen, Robinson needs to focus on preparation. He has the tools to become a role player early in his career with the potential for more touches as the year progresses.