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Setting Realistic Rookie Expectations for Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon

Evan Reier@@evanreierCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2015

Jun 16, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) runs during minicamp at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

T.J. Yeldon was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, which certainly puts a new level of pressure on him. However, circumstances have changed over the offseason, and he's now walking into an even more intense situation.

The injury of first-round selection Dante Fowler Jr. meant a lot of things for the Jaguars, but a part of the aftermath directly affects Yeldon. The 6'1", 226-pound back is now a pseudo-first pick, and that means the pressure to succeed is even more prevalent.

It doesn't help that the Jaguars have some legends at running back in their brief history with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Their success has set a standard for RBs in the future, even with the Jaguars suffering a series of bad seasons.

So, what are the proper expectations for the Jaguars' new starting RB? He's certainly got talent and polish, but does that mean he's got the ability to succeed in the NFL?

His college career seems to indicate so. As seen in his stats below, Yeldon was consistently a major force for the Alabama Crimson Tide, even with nagging injuries and competing with talents such as Eddie Lacy and Derrick Henry.

T.J. Yeldon's College Stats
YearRushing YardsTouchdownsAttemptsReceiving YardsReceiving Touchdowns
20121,108121751311
20131,235142071830
2014979111941801
ESPN.com
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However, plenty of players have had success with a top-tier college team and racked up impressive stats. The NFL's a whole different monster, and there's never a guarantee for success in the league.

Yeldon does seem to have a lot of promise, as much as Jay Ajayi or any other RB available when the Jaguars selected him 36th overall. He's been a factor for the Crimson Tide for three years, and his consistency is impeccable.

While Yeldon's stats are impressive, they are not the only things he should be judged on. Something not necessarily seen on paper is how well-rounded he is and how he is willing to do whatever a team asks of him.

He can block, run to the inside and out as well as be a dangerous threat in the passing game. The reason the Jaguars selected him over the other options isn't because of what he can become but what he can already do.

That's not to say that Yeldon doesn't have potential either. He's still raw in a lot of ways, most notably his ball-carrying issues and his tendency to try to hit big runs on every play.

Watch this exciting highlight video of Yeldon at Alabama to get ready for his rookie season:

He matured and developed a lot in Tuscaloosa, but there is still work to be done in Jacksonville. With Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson tailing him, there certainly will be motivation to improve and keep his starting spot through this season and in the future.

Another major detail to consider for Yeldon's rookie season is the players in front of him blocking. With new additions such as rookie A.J. Cann, Stefen Wisniewski and Jermey Parnell, the offensive line got some much-needed talent and depth.

Finally, it will also depend on new offensive coordinator Greg Olson. It seems like the Jaguars will run more than we've seen in the past, so that could potentially mean more reps for Yeldon to make his impact.

Overall, it seems like the 2015 rendition of the Jaguars is set up for Yeldon. He's got a sufficient offensive line and an offensive coordinator who has leaned toward the run at previous jobs.

As nice as all of that is, Yeldon will still have to execute on the field. As mentioned, the jump to the NFL is rough, even with help. He's got the talent, but he has to show the mental fortitude to push through and stay with his game.

So, what are "fair" expectations for Yeldon?

Honestly, there's no reason Yeldon shouldn't hit 750-1,000 yards and have somewhere around five touchdowns. This is not including what he might do in the passing game as well, which could drastically improve his overall impact.

Watch B/R's Matt Miller analyze what kind of role Yeldon will have with the Jaguars below:

He should also cut down on his fumbling, one of his biggest flaws at Alabama. He fumbled 10 times over three seasons, and, realistically, he should be expected to fumble once, maybe two times, the entire season.

Yeldon's the type of back who will do more than he gets credit for, although he can still put up numbers and score touchdowns like his competitors. Rookie seasons are never easy, but Yeldon has the ability and setup to shine in 2015.

What do you think? Does Yeldon meet my expectations? Or do you think he does better or worse? Answer the poll, and comment below! 

All stats were provided by ESPN.com unless otherwise stated.

Evan Reier is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report covering the Jacksonville Jaguars. Follow Evan on Twitter @evanreier.

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