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Toby Gerhart went from backing up a legend to replacing one.
The former Stanford star started his career in Minnesota backing up Adrian Peterson and was brought to Jacksonville to replace Maurice Jones-Drew, who ended up leaving for Oakland in free agency.
Gerhart was a second-round pick in 2010 for the Minnesota Vikings but saw limited action backing up Peterson. In what snaps he did get, he made his impact known. In his career, he carries a 4.7 yards-per-carry average, including an impressive 7.9 average last year.
On the verge of a breakout season, Gerhart is a bruiser of a back whose power-running style will help the Jaguars dictate the pace of the game. Last year, Gerhart had 283 rushing yards, 136 of which came after contact, leaving him with a yards-after-contact average of 3.8 yards. To put this in perspective, Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson averaged 2.5 and 2.97 YAC, respectively.*
Gerhart has already been winning over his coaches. Jaguars running backs coach Terry Richardson said of him, "He's a horse. He's a big guy, and I talked to one of his former (position) coaches, and he was saying Toby had the strongest legs he's been around in terms of his leg drive and leg power. We're excited about that."
Gerhart hit the market at a time when there wasn't a true game-breaking running back available. Teams like the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants shelled out big money to fix their rushing attacks. The Jaguars, on the other hand, got their running back of the future for relatively cheap and without any baggage. Gerhart doesn't have a significant injury history (unlike Ben Tate of Cleveland), and he is still relatively young (27 compared to the Giants' Rashad Jennings, who is 29).
He figures to find plenty of opportunities carrying the ball, as the Jaguars won't want to rely too much on the passing game given the inexperience of their receivers. Now it is time for him to show everyone just what he is capable of.
*All stats from Pro Football Focus (subscription required)