You would naturally think that any running back drafted fourth overall by a team that ranked 22nd overall in the league in rushing the previous season would naturally step in as that team’s starter on Day 1.
And that will probably be the case for Leonard Fournette, the LSU back the Jaguars selected with the fourth pick in the 2017 draft, but it’s clear the Jaguars aren’t going to just hand Fournette that starter’s job.
Forunette was running behind T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory during the portion of OTAs that was open to the media for viewing on Tuesday and it appears he’ll continue to do so until he earns a promotion.
“Early on I tend to stay away from that,’’ Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said of running a rookie such as Fournette with the first team offense during offseason workouts.
“(There’s) the fact that you really haven’t earned anything and it is really about protecting them a little bit more and protecting how they acclimate themselves into the team.
“I think it’s always better if they keep their mouths shut and work extremely hard and start making some plays first before they get up there with the first group and things of that nature.’’
Fournette wasn’t the only highly-drafted rookie relegated to second- or third-team reps. Offensive tackle Cam Robinson, who was drafted 34th overall, wasn’t working with the first team either.
That came as a bit of a surprise as well, what with Branden Albert skipping the workout in an effort to force the Jaguars into renegotiating his contract, but Marrone said that’s all part of his plan.
“This is just how I’ve always tried to do it,’’ Marrone added. “Unless something crazy happens where you don’t have anyone at that position and you have to put someone there, I think you have to be careful.
“We have some other guys that maybe haven’t earned it either, but they will go up there, up front, a little bit and (then) we will start mixing it up and mixing (the rookies) in as we go.’’
Sounds like a logical plan. After all, when you’re coming off a sixth-straight losing season you don’t want to start handing out jobs, not even to rookies who may clearly be better than some of your veterans.
If those rookies are indeed as good as they’re projected to be they’ll move up the depth chart quickly enough. And if they don’t, then you’ll soon realize you don’t have the right rookies either.