When choosing your NFL running back, you’ll often find yourself having to make a trade-off; do I want power and weight, or speed and agility? Eddie Lacy, or Jay Ajayi? What if, you could have both? Ladies and gentleman, it gives me great excitement to introduce to you, Leonard Fournette.
Fournette used the combine to meet with teams, get measured, and show off his speed and jumping ability.
Weight: 240 lbs
40-Yard Dash: 4.51 seconds
Vertical Jump: 28.5 inches
If you’re new to all this, 4.51 seconds is a frighteningly quick time for 240 lbs to move. Fournette’s time placed him within the 90th percentile of the weight/speed comparison, which means to see this kind of combination is rare. As enticing as this headline is, the LSU alumnus brings so much more to the table.
Speed is all well and good for a running back, but elusiveness is arguably more important. Fournette can weave round his blockers, shake off contact, accelerate into the open spaces, and when necessary, knock an opposing defensive back into the middle of next week. This man is hard to stop when he gets moving.
Fournette’s feet are faster than lightning, and move his heavy-set frame around the field with ease. Balance is not even a slight problem, with 6’0/6’1 proving to be a very popular height for running backs (Le’veon Bell, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott all hover around the mark).
When contact is initiated, you better believe that isn’t the end of this Tiger’s run. Even if the would-be tackler can get the New Orleans native to the floor, Fournette squeezes every last inch he possibly can by finishing hard and falling forward.
Catching passes out of the backfield is well within the 22 year old’s wheelhouse, showcasing a perfectly adequate set of hands in addition to route-running capability.
The final piece of a running back’s game is pass blocking. At 240 lbs, Fournette is more than willing to deal with blitzing linebackers, and hand out some sweet Louisiana vengeance.
In his final year at LSU, Fournette was only able to start seven games as he dealt with a high ankle sprain, so durability could be a small issue.
Other than the fact he was injured, there’s nothing more to say about Fournette’s weaknesses. Some analysts may cite his decision to forgo the 2016 Citrus Bowl as a character concern, but I won’t for a minute suggest his self-preservation should be held against him. Teams from the combine reportedly loved Fournette’s character, and I’ve no reason to try and suggest otherwise.
Power, speed, feet, balance, hands, blocking ability. There’s nothing else you need to succeed at the running back position in the National Football League. Fournette ticks all the boxes.
He reminds me of Ezekiel Elliott in many ways (whose profile I also wrote last year) in the sense they are complete running backs, even if Elliott is a little bit lighter and faster. Will we see similar results from Fournette in his first season? Not everyone can be blessed with the Dallas Cowboys’ offensive line; but Fournette will find yards one way or another.
Draft Prediction: If Fournette falls beyond Carolina at pick number eight, that would be a major surprise.