JACKSONVILLE – James Robinson is good. Really good.
But Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke said while that's true of the Jaguars' young running back, it's equally true that the position group must improve.
And that will be among the Jaguars' objectives this offseason.
"He's a very consistent performer week in and week out," Baalke said of Robinson, who rushed for 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie this past season. "He's tough. He has a great mindset, the type of player we're looking. We have to add some explosive to that room as well and we have to be able to take some of the carries off of James.
"You can only ride a horse so long."
Robinson, who signed with the Jaguars as a collegiate free agent this past season, proved effective not only as a rusher, but as a receiver out of the backfield and a blocker – and Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer on Wednesday said the team will build the running back room around the young player.
Baalke, speaking to the media via videoconference Wednesday, reiterated Meyer's thoughts regarding Robinson – and also emphasized the need to address the position overall.
"James obviously had a tremendous year, especially when you factor in how he entered the league as a college free agent," Baalke said. "He has done a great job. He will continue to do a great job for the organization, and we feel he'll even take a step forward from where he was a year ago, but adding some competitiveness to that room … we feel we've got some guys in-house that can compete for roles but we're certainly looking to add to that room as well."
While the Jaguars are widely expected to select a quarterback No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Baalke on Wednesday discussed the quarterbacks currently on the roster – specifically mentioning 2019 sixth-round selection Gardner Minshew II and 2020 sixth-rounder Jake Luton. Minshew started 20 games in two seasons, including eight last season, and Luton started three games last season. "We're in good shape," Baalke said. "We've got two young guys. Obviously, they both have played. They both have done a very good job. Right now, we're just trying to get a feel for them going in with a new system. There's just a lot of newness right now. That will shake itself out once we get into the offseason program, which hopefully we have, and go from there."
Baalke on draft philosophy: "You're always looking to add the best of the best to the roster. You never go wrong by creating more depth at any position. What you're trying to do is build as competitive a roster as possible with the best available players. We've always placed less value on need, more value on the value of the player itself. That's how we'll continue to look at it. If the need and value coincide, then we'll go with need."
Baalke said the team is currently discussing three players who opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 – defensive tackle Al Woods, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and defensive end Lerentee McCray. "We're still working through that with all three of them," Baalke said. "I don't think there's clarity yet on any of them. We're certainly working that way and we should know something within a week or two."
Baalke on left tackle Cam Robinson, who received the Jaguars' 2021 franchise tag Wednesday: "Cam's a good young football player, 26 years old, who's developing and has done a good job. He knows where he stands with this organization. We have a lot of respect for him and where he can get to as a player. It's hard to find left tackles in the National Football League. They don't make many bodies that big, that athletic with that type of length. He's a young man who we're excited about working with. He knows exactly what he needs to do as he moves forward and we're looking forward to working with him."