One of the NFL‘s least talked about acquisitions from this offseason was the Jacksonville Jaguars signing RB Toby Gerhart to a three-year contract. Gerhart has spent the last four seasons as a member of the Minnesota Vikings backing up Adrian Peterson, and he did a commendable job in his time there.
Gerhart averaged four or more yards-per-carry in three of his four seasons as a Viking, including an astounding 7.9 YPC in 2013. He also put up decent receiving numbers for a second-string RB, averaging between seven and eight yards-per-reception in those four years.
Jaguars HC Gus Bradley recently sat down and answered questions from reporters regarding the team. When Bradley was asked about Gerhart’s potential role in the Jaguars offense, he had some interesting things to say.
“He has the ability to play all three downs,” Bradley said, according to a transcript from the Pro Football Writers of America. “How many carries he gets — we would like to run the ball over 40 percent of the time. There might be 28-30 carries in a game and there aren’t more running backs that carry more than 20 times a game. If he’s a guy that is carrying it 15-16 times and with third-down reps, 18 times. That’s feasible. A strong possibility.”
It appears as if Gerhart will be the starter on opening day due to his ability and little competition on the current Jaguars depth chart. Jordan Todman, Denard Robinson and Delone Carter are anything but up-and-coming stars. Although Bradley did mention that Robinson has put on some weight this offseason and is fully expected to be used solely as a RB in 2014, it won’t affect Gerhart’s numbers as the starter.
Gerhart showed he had the ability to be a valuable asset to a team while he was a Viking, and the Jaguars also believe he is capable of doing so. His running style encapsulates what every NFL signal-caller wants their RB to be. He is physical, athletic, powerful and patient. He is a downhill runner who is good at waiting for the hole to open up and bursting through it. Once he gets to the second level he lowers his shoulders and powers through defenders without losing steam.
The predicted 18 carries a game could evolve into 19 or 20 by season’s end, and a few receptions on top of those carries are a nice addition in PPR formats. Gerhart should be drafted in the top 20 at his position but will likely be drafted around the 28th-30th RB in 2014 fantasy drafts. Jump on Gerhart before one of your buddies, and you won’t be stuck with the likes of Steven Jackson or Lamar Miller.