Welcome to the 20/20 series. As part of our continued Dynasty Scouts coverage and in preparation for the NFL Combine, we’ll be profiling 20 of the top incoming rookies of the class of 2017 by giving you 20 facts you must know.
1.) Player Name – Leonard Fournette
2.) College – LSU
3.) Height/Weight – 6’1”, 235 lbs.
4.) Birth date – 01/18/1995 (22)
5.) Class – Junior
6.) College Stats – 2014 (True Freshman): 187 carries for 1034 yards and 10 touchdowns, 2015: 300 carries for 1953 yards and 22 TDs, 2016 (seven games): 129 carries for 843 yards and 8 TDs
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7.) NFL Draft round projection – Early to mid first. Generally regarded as a top 15 player in this class and is in a 1a/1b situation with Dalvin Cook for the top running back.
8.) Current NFL Comp – Fournette falls in the camp of runners who rely on their ability to get downfield with a head of steam and use their power to overrun defenders. Adrian Peterson is the most obvious power back that comes to mind, along with the college/rookie year version of Trent Richardson and even two-sport legend and Tecmo Bowl star Bo Jackson. All of these guys, Fournette included, relish in contact and use their power to complement otherworldly speed and agility.
9.) Best Possible Destination – Fournette will be best suited for a team that is willing and ready to incorporate him as a high volume feature of their offense. Bleacher Report’s Matt Millers post Super Bowl mock draft has Fournette going in the top five, to Jacksonville at fourth overall. Carolina at eighth overall isn’t completely out of the picture, with Ron Rivera and co. finally able to shore up the position that has been haunted by injuries. Looking further into the mid-first, Indianapolis and Philadelphia both seem like prime candidates to select Fournette. Both have above average offensive lines and skill players and the addition of Fournette could take them to another level.
10.) Worst Possible Destination – Atlanta.
The Falcons already have two high quality running backs and the continuation of a spread offense under new OC Steve Sarkisian, would make it a rough fit for a power running back such as Fournette. More broadly, Fournette is not fit for any team with a featured running back already in place. He has the body type and skill to immediately receive 300 + carries in his rookie year and does not need to join any sort of timeshare or platoon system.
11.) Best Current Skill – Combination of power and speed.
Fournette is an incredibly powerful back at 235 pounds but what sets him apart from most is the speed that accompanies this power. His ability to accelerate at such a large size is frankly incredible and it’s what makes him such an alluring prospect. He can get north to south in a hurry and once he does, not many tacklers stand a chance trying to take him down and he’ll be sure to try to run them over in the process.
12.) Skill that needs to be improved – Patience.
Fournette, unlike last year’s consensus top rookie Ezekiel Elliott, does not have the best patience with his blockers and play development. His lack of patience can lead to busted plays and prevent him from gaining positive yards while he gets stuck behind blockers. His skills once he finds a hole and hits it are elite but it’s the ability to find that hole and find it at the right time that can plague him. Luckily, patience is something that can be taught and developed through proper coaching and a commitment from Fournette to waiting on the play to develop and letting his game do the rest.
13.) Past/current Rookie ADP – While we wait on rookie ADP, we can use Fournette’s rookie rankings as a tell for his current value. He is currently ranked as the third overall player in this class and the number two running back behind Cook. While Western Michigan’s Corey Davis is currently he second overall rookie, I would bet that dynasty owners vault Fournette over him once ADP data begins to roll in. Regardless, he is cemented in the top tier of this class.
14.) Projected Dynasty Value – Fournette is going to be a top three rookie draft selection and likely immediately fall in the top 50 overall of dynasty rankings. His game translates well to the NFL, he is going to have the draft pedigree, and the playing time should be there right away. Initially, he should be in the top 10 of dynasty running backs, especially if he lands in a favorable spot. His price tag will be high off the bat, as it is with any top tier rookie, and buying him outside of the draft is going to be very tough for the next 18 or so months.
15.) 6-Star Prospect – Coming out of New Orleans and St. Augustine High School, Fournette was arguably the biggest high school football recruit in the last 5-10 years. He was 247 Sports #1 overall player, right in front of projected number one overall pick Myles Garrett and Heisman finalist Jabrill Peppers. Some argued that he could play in the NFL straight out of high school and that the then 18 year old could be a first round pick. Like LeBron James, Fournette has been tasked with the impossible task of attempting to live up to the astronomical expectations put on him by many.
16.) Heavy Workload – Fournette accumulated 616 carries in his three seasons at LSU, including 129 in just seven games this season. When healthy, he has shown the ability to carry a big workload, evidenced by his 300 carries in 2015. He has dealt with ankle problems throughout college and his medical check at the combine will hopefully dispel some fears of any chronic problems. It will be worth monitoring how he deals with lead back volume once he reaches the NFL.
17.) Can he catch? – Fournette only had 41 receptions in three years at LSU, maxing out at 19 in 2015. His size is useful as a blocker in passing situations and with his abilities as a runner; there is no need to look at his lack of passing involvement as a negative. Adrian Peterson only had 24 receptions in college and Ezekiel Elliott only saw 58, for reference.
18.) Rare Prospect – In an NFL.com poll of five executives, three chose Fournette over Elliott. As one said, “You don’t see guys with Fournette’s size/speed combination very often. He’s a rare, rare talent. He’s the most talented runner to come out since Adrian Peterson.”
19.) Numbers – Fournette captured the NCAA rushing title (given to the player with the highest YPG) in 2015 after running for more than 162.8 yards a game. His 1953 rushing yards were good for third in the nation and his 22 touchdowns ranked fourth. He was also a consensus All-American alongside Heisman winner Derrick Henry.
20.) Highlights – These are pretty incredible.
- Rookie Profile: Deshaun Watson, QB Clemson - April 23, 2017
- 20/20: Leonard Fournette - February 28, 2017
- Dynasty Debate: D’Onta Foreman vs Christian McCaffrey - February 5, 2017