James Robinson the Jags’ player to cheer for in 2021, per NFL.com

·2 min read

Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Considering how many highly drafted players end up as busts (or at least disappointments relative to their draft slot), breaking through as an undrafted player is quite a long shot. Which is why it’s all the more special when players like James Robinson manage to do it.

There were certainly signs that he could be successful in the league when looking at his college career as he dominated at Illinois State finishing one yard shy of 1,900 yards rushing as a senior to go with his 18 touchdowns. He wasn’t expected to make the roster by some when he signed with them in April, but when it came time to announce the final 53-man roster, Robinson wasn’t just on it; he was the team’s starter at running back.

He finished tied for fifth in rushing with 1,070 yards to go with seven touchdowns on the ground, becoming just the fourth undrafted running back to rush for 1,000 yards as a rookie.

So it should be no surprise that in Adam Rank’s list of players to cheer for in 2021 for each team, Robinson is the selection for Jacksonville.

Robinson went out and crushed it as an undrafted rookie last season, and my friends down in Duval County rewarded him by drafting Travis Etienne in Round 1. Which, I can kind of understand. I mean, I suppose Shad Khan and Urban Meyer are more interested in winning games than helping my fantasy team. But damn, Robinson had to be so excited to play with Trevor Lawrence, and then the Jags draft the No. 1 overall pick’s Clemson teammate. Talk about a third wheel …

Though Rank speaks of the selection of Etienne as if it were a diss on Robinson, in actuality, it will probably help him tremendously. Robinson had a hefty workload in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, he led all NFL backs in carry percentage last season.

As good as Robinson was, that just isn’t sustainable. Now that Jacksonville has added a “slash” player in Etienne (a guy who can lineup both in the backfield and as a receiver), it has a true change of pace back from Robinson.

Etienne’s presence may limit Robinson’s 2021 production, but it should allow the Jags to develop one of the most promising young backfields in football.

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