Overview: 2017 is considered to be a fantastic class for running backs, and I have seen a lot of debate regarding whether or not the Jags should take one at #4, as well as which one should be selected. Leonard Fournette is, in my opinion, the best back in this class, although Dalvin Cook has a great argument as well. The true Junior from LSU has been a potent threat since his time at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, where he was a five star recruit. He certainly left a legacy at LSU with numerous records and impressive stats. Most notably, his Sophomore season yielded him a whopping 1,952 rushing yards with 22 Touchdowns on the side.
Pros: His numbers speak for themselves; his time at LSU was nothing short of spectacular. Anyone who can rush for an average of 6.2 yards per carry throughout his career in the SEC West is sure to ruin heads. But, we should look beyond the stats. His chiseled frame can allow him to power through tough defenders. He may not be the most shifty in the open field, but he can smash a hole and breakout to an eye popping top speed. To compare, he ran a 4.51 40 Yard Dash time at the Combine, which was just 0.02 slower than Dalvin Cook, even though Fournette was 30 pounds heavier.
Cons: Speaking of the NFL Combine, we have to address some of the talk around his numbers in Indianapolis. Fournette weighed in at a husky 240 lbs. Most predictions had him around 330-335, so many were concerned. He later called this “water weight” that “went away completely.” His vertical jump measured a measly 28.5 inches, only two running backs in the last four combines have performed worse. Should his weight and lack of vertical be a cause for concern? Possibly, it is definitely something to jot down and watch for in the next few years. But how often does a running backs vertical effect the course of a football game? Rarely. On another note, some have said that his running style is too power based and not fluid enough, but plenty of RB’s who are bulky have found success in the league. Other big backs Adrian Peterson and Le’veon Bell are powerhouses, but they also possess elusiveness, which Fournette may not. Finally, he struggled with injury in his final season, specifically a high ankle sprain.
Buy or Sell: Buy- Fournette can be a fantastic 3 down back who has the power to carry an offense on his back, which is only partially a metaphor. I have opened up to the prospect of the Jags selecting a back at #4, and Fournette or Cook would each be a great choice. I love a good power back to tire out the defenses, and Fournette is one of the best College Football has had to offer in recent memory. In a year where Blake Bortles will be playing for his job, upping the run game to balance out the offense would be a wise decision.
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