Whether you're a Jacksonville fan or an eager fantasy owner anticipating your first round move for your draft, Maurice Jones-Drew and his immediate future are in your sights.
At least, it should be.
Considering all the amazing things he's done in his short career, all while splitting carries with the Jaguar legend Fred Taylor, it's almost jaw-dropping.
Just look at his first year in the league. He paired with Taylor to form one of the league's best rush attacks, as he fell less than 60 yards short of 1,000 rushing yards, and also dropped in 13 rushing touchdowns.
Not bad for a rookie.
Oh, and then there was that bone-crunching block he delivered on the huge Shawn Merriman. You know, this hit.
Needless to say, MJD launched himself into the NFL as a star. He was easily a household name in Florida, while putting up good numbers and enough highlight reel plays, that he was probably already well known throughout the states.
This just in: Jones-Drew is good; really good. And in 2009, he'll have the backfield all to himself.
Good-bye Fred Taylor. Hello rushing title?
The truth is, last season, despite seeing MJD cross the goal line 12 times, the Jacksonville ground game suffered.
The offensive line was terrible with constantly nicked up blockers, as several starters were lost for a slew of games, and some for the season.
Despite shady blocking for both the rush and pass, MJD put up over 800 rush yards, the previously mentioned 12 scores, and a respectable 4.0 yards per carry.
The line has been restored—on paper, at least.
David Garrard should be more comfortable, both with his new receivers (Torry Holt, and two rookies) and his growing connection with tight end, Mercedes Lewis.
The best part, though, is that the leash is being taken off, and the real MJD will finally be released.
For the past three years, the Jaguars have had too much depth at running back (didn't know that existed), and Jones-Drew was being held back.
And in a big way, we all were being held back from greatness.
This is Jones-Drew's time, both as a fantasy weapon for your team, and as an icon for the league.
He has the strength and drive to run inside. If he can blow up a guy like Merriman on that play at the goal line, he can handle just about anyone inside.
He has the speed, quickness, and overall athleticism needed to succeed in the NFL, and is regarded as one of the top running backs in terms of physical shape.
He is a specimen worth taking notes on.
Just read interviews with his teammates to hear how confident they are in his abilities as the feature back. Even ask the departed Fred Taylor.
There isn't a general "feeling" that this guy is as good as advertised. It's common knowledge.
So, the next time someone balks at you selecting him third on a long list of deserving running backs, don't feel so bad.
The next time someone gives you a hard time for ranking him over everyone else but Adrian Peterson, just laugh it off.
Because even if the numbers don't prove your point, 2009 will.
MJD is just too good to not become one of the elite running backs this season. And mostly, it's because he already is one.