At this time last year, the question from everybody around the NFL was about the Dallas Cowboys. Big surprise there!
More specifically, it was if taking a running back with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft would be a good idea. 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns later, you could already make an argument that Zeke Elliot is the best back in football. One year later, the Jacksonville Jaguars are hoping to strike the same luck with Leonard Fournette.
The pick was one of the most speculated in almost any mock draft you could find leading up to the draft. Jacksonville’s leading back last year was T.J. Yeldon, who averaged 31 yards a game. Even if you don’t rate Blake Bortles as the man to take Jacksonville forward, he had no chance last year with the lack of support from his backs. Considering the money and draft picks that Jacksonville has pumped into their defense in the last two years, taking a running back was a no-brainer.
Having a running back as physically gifted as Fournette is a franchise game changer for the Jags. The numbers are truly staggering. Fournette is 240 pounds, runs like a bull, and put up a 4.51 in the 40-yard dash at the combine. That alone makes you question if he is a power back or finesse back. When you turn on his tape from LSU, it becomes clear he is both.
The ability to be both strong and quick like he was at LSU will be the major key to his success at the next level. It was a pretty common sight in college to see Fournette straight up running over people once he gets a head of steam going. Will he still be able to do this against bigger NFL defenders? If not, his elusiveness is going to be what he has to fall back on. He keeps his feet moving, and I think with the headlines his size and speed make, his vision is an underrated part of his game.
There is nothing not to like about this pick from a Jacksonville perspective. He was the best player available at a position the team was in sore need of. He will be a day one starter and has all of the tools he needs to put up Elliot type numbers. He already figures to get plenty of carries, but if Blake Bortles starts struggling again, he will be spoon fed the ball at every possible chance.
One more piece of the Fournette pick that could go a long way is what the Jaguars did with their next pick. David Caldwell went with Cam Robinson, the big offensive tackle out of Alabama in the second round. Some scouts have Robinson listed as more of a guard, but either way he can slide straight into the offensive line to help open up the holes for Fournette.
I think there’s quite a bit of Derrick Henry in Fournette with his size, and then Ezekiel Elliot with the open field speed and ability to shake off defenders. The lethal combination will make him a likely first round pick in any fantasy football league, and he should put up the yards to reward those who pick him.
He’s a bulldozer and a Ferrari boiled down into one package. Watch out, NFL defenses. Leonard Fournette is coming to an end zone near you!