Drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft out of UCLA, not much was expected of Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars in his rookie season. He had to fight for the backup job behind Fred Taylor – a spot in the depth charts that was far from guaranteed going into training camp.
Fast forward a year and Jones-Drew is one of the hottest names in the league. After finishing with 941 rushing yards and 436 receiving yards in his rookie campaign, Jones-Drew officially introduced himself to the NFL as a guy who can accumulate yardage.
Jones-Drew, who is listed at 5-foot-7 and 212 pounds, also showed that he has the power to get it into the endzone. With 13 rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns, Jones-Drew had one of the most spectacular rookie seasons in recent NFL history.
Some league pundits question whether Jones-Drew can do it again. They point to the fact that he has to split carries with Fred Taylor, who is back for another season. They point to Jones-Drew’s size as proof that he can’t be an every-down type of back. They point to the Jaguars’ offense as being too predictable and lacking a leader.
However, doubters have always followed Jones-Drew. While in college, he took a backseat to the fame that followed Reggie Bush at rival USC. Even in high school, some doubted that Jones-Drew would have the size to compete on the college level. One thing about Jones-Drew, though, is he always proves doubters wrong.
Having ended the 2006 campaign with ten touchdowns in his final eight games, there is no reason to believe that Jones-Drew can’t have a huge season in 2007. The Jaguars had an offseason to better plan how to get him the ball. Taylor will still see some carries, but everyone in the organization knows Jones-Drew is the future of the franchise.
Look for Jones-Drew to be an even larger part of the passing game, especially since the Jaguars still lack solid wide receivers. At the goal line, Jones-Drew will be looked at to score the touchdowns. While Taylor had more rushing yards last season, he only had five rushing touchdowns.
In 2007, it’s a safe bet to assume that Jones-Drew will break 1750 total yards from scrimmage to go along with at least a dozen touchdowns. Some may doubt him, but Jones-Drew has never let that stand in his way before.