The Jacksonville Jaguars did not draft Leonard Fournette fourth overall to be a role player. They drafted him fourth overall to be a franchise-changing running back, just as Ezekiel Elliott – the fourth overall pick in 2016 – has been for the Cowboys.
Elliott accounted for nearly 2,000 yards as a rookie, not to mention 16 touchdowns. While it’s unfair to assume Fournette will match that production, what can we expect from him in 2017 and beyond?
As it turns out, a lot.
“I really do think Leonard (is) made for the NFL game,” former LSU and NFL running back Jacob Hester said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think his running style, his body type, is made to play in the long haul in the NFL. He played at LSU where everybody in the stadium – every coach, every player – knew Leonard Fournette was going to get the football. And he still had a lot of success, and he still dominated football games.”
Fournette, a 228-pound wrecking ball, rushed for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons at LSU. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and caught 41 balls for 526 yards and a score.
Hester will never forget Leonard’s game against Ole Miss last October. Fournette rushed 16 times for 284 yards – 17.8 yards per carry – and reeled off touchdown runs of 78, 76, and 59 yards in a 38-21 win.
“That’s almost unheard of stats,” Hester said. “Leonard is definitely made for the NFL game. I think he’ll have a lot of success.”
The Jaguars need him to. Last season, they ranked 22nd in the league in rushing yards per game (101.9) and 29th in rushing touchdowns (eight).
“There’s always growing pains, no matter what position you play,” Hester said, “but the quickest position to get over those growing pains is running back because at the end of the day, it’s just you running the football – something you’ve done your whole life. So I think he’ll have a quick impact.”