The Jaguars drafted Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They were rewarded with 1,628 total yards and 16 total touchdowns (including the playoffs). Fournette was a revelation at running back for the Jaguars and was clearly the best player to tote the rock in Duval County since Maurice Jones-Drew.
On the whole Leonard Fournette's rookie season was a huge success. He averaged over 100 total yards per game and found the end zone time and time again. At a playing weight of over 230 pounds he recorded the two fastest times of any ball carrier in the NFL last season. All this while facing the most loaded boxes of any running back in football. His average yards per carry left a bit to be desired at 3.9, but there were a number of factors that led to the low YPC: stacked boxes, an oft injured offensive line group, and an inconsistent passing attack. Fournette missed three games last year: two due to injury and one for a violation of team rules.
So, what do I expect from the 23 year old running back in 2018?
In short I expect A MONSTER season.
Leonard Fournette is the catalyst for the Jaguars offense and the front office did a lot to make his job easier throughout the offseason. The addition of Andrew Norwell, an All-Pro offensive guard, will help solidify the offensive line and should lead to more room for Leonard Fournette to work. The additions of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a field stretching tight end, Donte Moncrief, an explosive outside receiver, and DJ Chark, a rookie WR with 4.3 speed and a 6'3'' frame, should help reduce the amount of defenders around the line of scrimmage. Making Leonard Fournette's job easier was clearly a priority for the Jaguars this offseason and it looks like they succeeded in doing so.
Another reason for optimism: Leonard Fournette, the fastest running back in football, dropped 11 pounds during the offseason and is at his lowest weight since high school. He's still an absolute load at 223 pounds, but he believes the weight he shed will lead to even more explosiveness and could help reduce some of the stress on his lower body.
Prediction: Leonard Fournette will get off to a hot start in 2018 and won't cool down. He faces the Giants and Patriots to start the season and will eclipse 125 yards on the ground in each of the Jaguars first two contests. Throughout the season he'll continue to prove that he's one of the freakiest athletes at the running back position in the NFL. His combination of size and speed will continue to cause fits for defenses. The Jaguars' improved run blocking and newly found downfield threats will help open up some wider running lanes for Fournette. He'll finish in the top five in rushing in 2018, despite missing two games due to injury, and he'll make his first Pro Bowl.
Regular Season Stats:
Rushing: 280 attempts, 1,232 yards, 13 touchdowns
Receiving: 35 catches, 315 receiving yards, 2 touchdowns.
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