2017 NFL Draft
Prospect: Leonard Fournette
Prospect: Leonard Fournette
Ht: 6'1" Wt: 235
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It isn't often you come across a player like Fournette. As a true freshman in 2014, he looked like a man among boys running the football. His combination of size and athleticism is incredible, and when he gets the ball, it is truly a must-see event similar to Odell Beckham Jr. catching a pass in the open field or Von Miller rushing the passer. You just prepare yourself for something special to happen. The question will be if there is a team in the top-five picks willing to take the same risk the Cowboys did last year by selecting a running back that high.
As a runner, Fournette is a monster. At 6'1 and 235 pounds, he should not be able to move like he does. His feet are extremely good, and he can change direction as good as players 30 pounds lighter than him. He comes out of his breaks with explosion and gets back to top-end speed quickly. He also does a good job of running with balance making him capable of making multiple cuts in the same run without losing his acceleration completely. As a defender, it must be frustrating to know that a guy like this can make you miss just as easy as he can run you over. Once in the open, he does have good long speed. I expect him to run in the low 4.5's, but it isn't out of the question for him to break into the 4.4's.
As I mentioned, he is just as capable of running defenders over. His ability to accelerate and then lower his shoulder is going to cause a lot of business decisions to be made at the next level. He has a nasty demeanor and looks to punish tacklers. He also has an outstanding stiff arm and uses it to stun his opponent and gain extra yards. He has good lower-body strength and keeps his legs pumping when stood up. Also, one of the more impressive aspects of his game is while he is a taller back, he doesn't play high. He runs low and behind his pads. Needless to say, he usually falls forward when defenders do get him to the ground.
In the passing game, he displays solid hands, but he still needs work if he wants to be involved in this phase. He doesn't have much experience running routes out of the backfield or when motioned out wide. He also hasn't caught many passes in those scenarios which takes much more focus than just catching a dump off. As a pass protector, he strikes well and has the competitive nature necessary to be successful in this area. He needs to keep his feet more active but once again, he does not have a ton of experience in the area.
While Fournette is the most elite running back prospect I have seen since Adrian Peterson, he does have a few areas he must grow once in the NFL. For starters, the blocking scheme at LSU has always been somewhat simple. They run a power scheme, and the hole is usually in a designated gap, or it isn't, and the back must improvise. Because of that, Fournette hasn't developed the kind of vision necessary to be a professional running back. It is something that takes patience but over time, it will make him even better. Also, while he is explosive, it isn't so much in the first step as it is in the steps to follow. Because of that, if defenses can get penetration, they can neutralize him (watch his tapes against Alabama). Some backs have the ability to create something out of nothing. With Fournette, that skill doesn't show up until step three or four.
Fournette is one of the toughest competitors in the country and works hard to be the best player he can be. It is also refreshing to see a player who has been in the spotlight his entire career and not let the fame get to his head. He is a good teammate, and there is no off-the-field baggage to worry about. Once again, I just wonder who will be the ones to take the risk. Running backs' careers are much shorter than those at other positions, and teams are just as capable of finding a difference-maker in the fourth round as they are in the top 10. Still, Fournette is an exception to the norm and outside of Myles Garrett, he is the only player I would classify as elite in this class.
Compares to (Current NFL Player): Adrian Peterson (Minnesota Vikings)
- Elite combination of size and athleticism
- As physical and competitive as any back in the country
- Protects the football
- Surprising change-of-direction for a player his size
- Very effective stiff arm
- Speed to finish
- Needs a step or two to get going
- Underdeveloped vision
- Not much experience on passing downs
1)   Leonard Fournette: 'I enjoyed every bit' of college career   - Nola.com |
2)   Sources Tell Us: What we're hearing about Leonard Fournette   - NFL.com |
3)   Leonard Fournette on why LSU is better than the NFL: 'Everything is free'
- FoxSports.Com |
4)   Leonard Fournette Twitter|
5)   Leonard Fournette Instagram|