Name: Leonard Fournette
Position: Running Back
Pro Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
College Team: LSU Tigers
Draft Status: Round One, Pick No. 4 overall
- Height: 6’0’’
- Weight: 240 Pounds
- Hands: 9 ¼’’
- Arm Length: 31 5/8’’
- Bench Press: DNP
- 40-Yard-Dash: 4.51
- 3-Cone-Drill: DNP
- 20-Yard-Shuttle: DNP
- Vertical Jump: 28.5 Inches
- Broad Jump: DNP
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Fournette is built like a grown man, with the speed and power to make defenders pay at the point of contact. He has the ability to accelerate through the hole and enter the second level of the defense at an alarming rate. Defensive backs get weak in the knees when it comes to tackling him in the open, because he will effortlessly explode through smaller defenders. There’s not a running back in the NFL that can build up inertia as quick as Fournette, and at 240-pounds, he’s a sledge hammer at the point of contact, making him incredibly difficult to tackle. He also has a violent stiff arm that he uses to keep defenders at bay.
He has the speed to get to the edge while running off-tackle and sweep plays. The opposing defenses will need to execute the appropriate pursuit angles, because he can break-way for a long touchdown run anywhere on the football field.
His collegiate career was decorated with a lot of highlight runs of him blowing by the defense for long gains. He finished his career rushing for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns while catching 41 receptions for 526 yards and one touchdown. In 2015 during his sophomore season he managed to own an incredible 42.04 percent market share of LSU’s offensive production.
Fournette has stiff hips which inhibits his ability to move laterally, causing him to not be able to jump cut or slide to the side to avoid defenders. He has trouble making the opposition miss in the open field. His inability to effectively move laterally causes him to miss open creases at the line of scrimmage.
Vision is another issue for Fournette, because sometimes he won’t see the open cut-back lane and instead run into the back of his offensive line or into a cluster or defensive players. His lack of anticipation before making him move towards the line of scrimmage, causes him to not see some of the open cut-back lanes, causing him to miss opportunities and leave yards on the football field.
He should already be etched into the starting lineup for the Jaguars for the first week of the season. The team drafted him at fourth overall to be the cornerstone player in their backfield. They are hoping to receive Ezekiel Elliott–type results. By reading the tea leaves from some of their previous moves, it’s easy to see that Jacksonville wants to run the ball. They spent a large amount of draft capital by selecting T.J. Yeldon in the second-round of 2015 NFL Draft. The Jaguars then acquired Chris Ivory by signing him to a five year $32 million deal. Even with their recent moves at running back, the team still nabbed Fournette with their first-round pick.
Allen Robinson is one of the top wide receivers in the league and his ability to create separation down field from the defensive backs that are covering him will help keep defenses honest and allow Fournette to see less eight-man fronts, making it easier for the offensive line to open the running lanes for him.
Blake Bortles is the biggest threat to the entire Jacksonville Jaguar offense. If Bortles struggles and the offense can’t push the ball down field, then Fournette will experience a limited amount of goal line opportunities due to Bortles’ inability to efficiently run the offense. Another bad season by Bortles and the team will be looking for a new quarterback either through the draft for by free agency. Waiting for a new quarterback to develop into a quality starter could stunt Fournette’s growth as a runner.
He will most definitely be the best running back on the roster going into training camp, but T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory could become a threat to steal touches if they decide to step up their game and become effective runners. Both running backs have some talent and if either one of them decide to put it together and deliver results then Fournette could be splitting carries during the early years of his career. Even though it’s in the realm of possibilities, I don’t see this scenario playing out.
Expect him to be the team’s starting running going into the week one and deliver RB2 results at a minimum. He has the potential to finish within in the top-three running backs in PPR scoring, but more than likely he should hover around low-end RB1 during his rookie season. Things should heat up for him during the second or third year of his career as he gets more acclimated to the NFL game and becomes a more efficient runner due to experience.
The sky is the limit for his career, because he has the potential to develop into the best running back in the league. I expect him to be one of the top running backs in the league during most his career. He should own the majority for the carries for the Jaguars for the next five to eight years. An injury plagued career or becoming a total bust are the only ways he would not develop into one of the league’s top running backs.
Honestly, there isn’t really a running back that directly compares to him. His straight-line speed and his ability to accelerate through the hole draws comparisons to Adrian Peterson. The way Fournette violently runs through defensive backs is very similar to how Bo Jackson would drop his shoulders and explode through defenders at the point of contact. Either way you shake it, he has some intangibles that compare to some of the best running backs to have ever played the game.
Projected Range for Rookie Drafts
Per DLF’s 2017 Rookie ADP, Fournette is being selected at 1.60, making him a top two selection in rookie drafts. It’s usually between him and Corey Davis for the top pick with Christian McCaffrey sometimes sneaking into the top two. Unless he suffers an injury, gets arrested or tests positive on a drug test, he should remain as one of the top picks in rookie drafts throughout the summer. He’s one of the best rookies in this class and if he can hit his potential, should become one of the top running backs in the league.
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Don’t see why Corey Davis would be ahead of him. We’re talking about a decade prospect vs a once in a year or two prospect. People worried about his catch ability are just looking at the short term. He’s good enough to be a two down back for as long as his health holds. He’ll get better at receiving over time (like Peterson did, BTW). The only time you need to be worried about a guy’s 3rd down abilities is when they aren’t good enough in other areas to justify keeping them on the field. He’ll be fine and htere’s no reason Corey Davis should be going first, IMO.
This is not like the choice between Calvin or AP, I believe Fournette is clearly the easy choice for 1.1
I held the 1.01 in about 4 of my leagues. I really like Joe Mixion. I think he has the traits to become a very valuable fantasy RB like Zeke, Bell, & DJ were in 2016. With everyone gushing over Davis & Fournette I opted to trade back in all 4 leagues. One league I got 1.4 (Mixion) + Ajayi for 1.01. Another I got 1.4 (Mixion) + 1.10+ 2018 1st. for 1.01.
Having Fournette on my taxi squad since 2015 it changes my perspective a bit. Pairing him with David Johnson this year gets me excited about my one two punch going into the season. Not having much along side Johnson last year has me hoping for a modest 10-11 points from Fournette. Knowing that it could be more but I reminds me that roster construction plays a part in exspectations of a player needed to improve your roster. If I was looking for him to be the cornerstone of my team I would have much more worries than I do. I wonder if he is that player that can make others around him better. I think we all know who those players are. There are concerns and things that he needs to improve on. But I have to imagine that based on skill level teams are going to have to at least adjust to some degree defensively to stay honest. More and more reports are coming out about his ability to catch the ball. I’m personally happy to hear these reports. But to those having the decision of drafting Fournette. I absolutely see where you are coming from. I can remember a few years back when I had the 1.2 & 1.5 and those picks in my mind were going to turn my team around. Be my core pieces. I looked at it so much differently than I do with a win now team. All in all he is a good player to consider adding to your roster. Best of luck to all of you in your drafts.