Two completely contrasting styles but one common goal.
When Fred Taylor was the lead running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars, head coach Jack Del Rio and then-general manager James "Shack" Harris did something that altered the course of the team's history: They drafted Maurice Jones-Drew in 2006.
At that moment the present and the future of the franchise were connected.
Five years later, the "present and future" has become the "past and present" in a franchise that has had two signature backs who could both be bound for Canton.
When Jones-Drew scored his 72nd touchdown of his career, it gave him the title of the greatest touchdown-maker in Jaguars history, passing the man he learned from before him. And with the new record in place, the comparisons come in droves. And while the running styles are different, there is a noticeable difference in how they are perceived by the media and the public.
Jones-Drew will have a better career for many reasons and may in fact already be the best back in franchise history. While Taylor was a stud coming out of college and showed off quickly how good he was before injuries took hold and he developed the moniker "Fragile Fred."
Jones-Drew has shown he can play through the pain and get the extra yards through traffic and fight for extra space.
Taylor was a plodder and waited for a hole to open before he ran through it. Jones-Drew is more effective and quicker to the point of attack; plus he is a better receiver out of the backfield.
Taylor is also remembered for his leadership and continuity. He will be loved as a member of a group that finished 14-2 in 2000 and ran through everyone with the exception of Tennessee that season.
Now, on a team looking to make a move in 2012, it is Jones-Drew's turn to prove he is the best.
And as the team makes Jones-Drew more and more the focal point of the offense, he will continue to prove he is the best, maybe the best back in the league right now. It is hard to imagine but he is leading the league in rushing without much help in the passing game and he is not catching touchdowns as often as he is running into the end zone. He is truly "the team" and everyone on the team and the league knows this.
But what separates Jones-Drew in comparison is the miles already run. Taylor finished with over 12,000 for his career. Jones-Drew has over 6,000 in five seasons and looks as fresh as the day he was drafted. He will hopefully surpass Taylor in the next four seasons with the pace he is on and will undoubtedly be given consideration to Canton and the Hall of Fame as one of the best runners ever to play the game.
And for those reasons, although Taylor is loved and revered by loyal Jacksonville fans, Jones-Drew is better at what he does in the system he works with.
And he can only get better.