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New York Jets Draft Ragin’ Cajun Running Back Elijah McGuire

The Jets add a back in McGuire who has the potential to contribute early.

NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Georgia Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana-Lafayette running back Elijah McGuire will be taking his talents to the New York Jets for the upcoming season. He will look to play a role on an offensive scheme that suits his skill set and does not shy away from the running back by committee model giving him a chance to get touches early. If everything falls into place, he has the potential to be remembered as an absolute steal in the 2017 draft.

McGuire joins a corps of running backs that featured Matt Forte and Bilal Powell during the 2016 season. Forte was featured more often than Powell, getting 248 touches to his 189. Despite the discrepancy in touches, both players recorded 30 receptions or more. This simple statistic illustrates the importance of dual-purpose running backs in the Jets’ offensive scheme.

Heading into the 2016 season Matt Forte was brought in from the Chicago Bears as a replacement for the departing Chris Ivory, and his contract lasts until the end of the 2018 season. He will be 34 when his contract ends, so it is important for the team to start developing future running backs now.

While Powell has proven to be productive in his time with the team, he may be best suited to serve as a complimentary or change of pace back rather than the heir apparent to the lead back role.

This is where the opportunity lies for McGuire; he can step in to a situation that will allow him some time to develop into a true NFL back for a team that he should mesh with. If the production and development are there early, the transition away from Forte at the end of his contract will work in his favor.

All signs point to this scenario being less than farfetched, as his time as a Ragin’ Cajun showed. He was a model of consistency in both the rushing and passing game, contributing wherever they needed him. Look for that work ethic and ability to transfer at the next level.

McGuire becomes the fourth player to be selected in the NFL Draft since Mark Hudspeth took over in 2011.