While many people talk about the New York Jets and their loaded depth at both cornerback and on the defensive line, which only got better with the addition of first round pick Leonard Williams, it seems one other position of strength is flying a bit under the radar. That position is at running back when one thinks about it.
Leading the way for this group is veteran Chris Ivory, who the Jets acquired in 2013 from the New Orleans Saints. In my opinion, I feel that Ivory has not been used enough up to this point and feel that his workload should increase, especially in the red-zone.
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Ivory is a very physical, downhill runner who embraces contact. He is a bit limited when it comes to catching the ball out of the backfield, but he should be receiving at least 10-15 carries a game.
This offseason, the Jets added two running backs, one of them being former New England Patriot Stevan Ridley.
Ridley is a bit similar to Ivory, as he is a powerful runner who is not known for his speed. The former LSU star is recovering from a torn ACL that cut his 2014 season short. Depending on how well Ridley is able to get back on the field, he may have a big impact on the Jets. While not known for it, Ridley is able to make some plays out of the backfield.
When it comes to consistency, there may not be one player on the team more consistent than former Louisville Cardinal Bilal Powell. While there is nothing flashy about Powell’s game, he certainly does not present any glaring weakness either.
Out of the group of running backs, Powell will most likely be the 3rd down running back, simply because he is the most versatile and is able to play a role in passing situations. An underrated part of Powell’s game is his ability to pass block, as well as play a role on special teams.
Dec 15, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
On Day 3 of the 2015 NFL Draft, new general manager Mike Maccagnan struck a deal with the St. Louis Rams to acquire former 1,000 yard rusher Zac Stacy in exchange for pick 224 in the 7th Round. With St. Louis drafting Georgia star running back Todd Gurley in the 1st Round, it was clear that Stacy was not going to be a Ram for much longer.
Stacy is similar to Ivory and Ridley, but will have the chance to stick around with a strong training camp and preseason. Stacy is only 24 years old, so a change of scenery may serve him well. He could be quite the diamond in the rough if he takes this opportunity for everything it’s worth.
While it may not be as strong as the defensive line or cornerback corps, the running back depth is certainly a strength for the Jets heading into next season. I would not be surprised if the team decided to keep all four of these running backs while not keeping a fullback on the roster.
It will be very interesting to see how offensive coordinator Chan Gailey splits up the carries for this talented group.