Who Is James Robinson, the Undrafted Running Back Starting in Jacksonville?

Jacksonville surprised most of the football world when the Jaguars named undrafted rookie James Robinson the Week 1 starter at running back.

Most of the world, in turn, responded with one word: “Who?”

With Leonard Fournette now in Tampa Bay, Robinson is part of the crew that will replace the former first-round pick. Here’s what you need to know about Robinson, who the Jacksonville Jaguars understandably hope will become a star.

James Robinson dominated at Illinois State

Just who is James Robinson? Standing 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 219 inches, he’s the Jaguars’ new starting running back.

Robinson spent his college career at Illinois State, an FCS program that upset Northwestern in 2016 and Colorado State in 2018. Robinson totaled 4,444 rushing yards and 44 touchdowns in 46 career games with the Redbirds.

The shifty running back averaged 5.6 yards per carry and left school second in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns.

A capable receiver, Robinson also turned 58 passes into 428 yards and two touchdowns.

Robinson signed with the Jaguars as a rookie free agent

A standout performance at the East-West Shrine Bowl, where he posted 136 total yards and had a 63-yard rushing touchdown, landed James Robinson on NFL draft boards.

During the pre-draft process, NFL Media’s Lanze Zierlein praised Robinson’s work ethic and vision.

However, Zeirlein correctly projected Robinson as a seventh-round pick or undrafted player because of the expected transition from an FCS program to the NFL.

“Robinson’s feet, finesse and vision allow to probe from gap to gap against conference competition, but tighter NFL running lanes mean he’ll need to be more physical and more urgent to succeed between the tackles. The college production is unlikely to translate into the pros, but he’s well-rounded enough to compete for a back-end roster spot if he runs to his size and can play on special teams.”

Jacksonville signed Robinson as a rookie free agent when the draft concluded.

James Robinson is the Jaguars’ new starting running back


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Jacksonville surprisingly cut Leonard Fournette near the end of training camp. Fournette quickly signed with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Back in Jacksonville, the Jaguars didn’t have much proven running back depth. That fact, combined with Robinson’s strong training camp performance, earned him a starting spot on the Week 1 depth chart.

During a recent media session, Jaguars offensive coordinator Jay Gruden praised Robinson and how quickly he adapted to the NFL.

“James has really taken it to a level for a rookie free agent, not getting the reps early in camp, to really dominate in the reps that he did get and really turning our heads and that’s the key to a rookie free agent making the team.”

Jacksonville opens its 2020 season against Philip Rivers and the Indianapolis Colts. The Jaguars have won four of their last six matchups against the Colts.

Chiefs rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire made the most of his first NFL game in a victory over the Texans. Although Edwards-Helaire was a first-round pick and Robinson went undrafted, the Jaguars’ rookie may have his own strong Week 1 performance coming.

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