Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette is in a position to do something no other running back has done in a while. The fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft could run for 1,000 yards – the first to do so since Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 1,606 yards in 2011. But in order to do so, he will need a strong effort from his offensive line.
It’s no secret the offensive line and the running game were the Jacksonville Jaguars main weaknesses last season. This year, both units look to change that perspective. If they do just that, could Fournette win Offensive Rookie of the Year? I think so, and so do other writers and publications.
“One year ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars attempted to address their backfield by forming a running back by committee. To go with the already in-tow T.J. Yeldon, the Jaguars signed veteran Chris Ivory after he’d enjoyed a productive year with the New York Jets. The experiment, however, failed. Thus, the Jags were compelled to look the way of Leonard Fournette early in the 2017 NFL Draft,” Cody Williams wrote on foxsports.com.
“Armed with the fourth-overall pick in the draft, Jacksonville did as many thought they should by taking the former LSU running back. Fournette would’ve been a top-10 pick had he come out as a sophomore. Instead, he was forced to stay another year and suffered through injuries and an overall down season.”
While Fournette is a bruising style of runner, compared to Adrian Peterson and last year’s fourth overall pick, Ezekiel Elliott, he is his own brand of power and speed.
While he came to the Combine in February at 240 pounds, look for the Jacksonville Jaguars to keep him at 225-230 pounds to maximize his potential. When he was drafted, team executive vice-president Tom Coughlin told Fournette the team needed him to score touchdowns. If the offensive line allows the team to move down field, he should have plenty of chances to do that.
Williams agrees with my assessment, but he also said there is still plenty of work to be done.
“However, the question out of Jacksonville now becomes just how good Fournette can be right away. Along those same lines, the curiosity is if the running back can win Offensive Rookie of the Year in the 2017 season,” said Williams.
And he has support from some pretty big shoes.
soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer LaDanian Tomlinson said that he could see Fournette posting 12-15 touchdowns on the ground as a rookie. If there’s someone that’d know about finding the end zone, it’d be Tomlinson.
The Jaguars need Fournette to become the focal point of the running game and the offense. If this happens, the passing game will improve. Quarterback Blake Bortles won’t have to carry all the burden on his shoulders. The Jacksonville Jaguars win total will improve. And at the end of the season, there should be some hardware Fournette will receive.
If the offensive line will do its part, look for the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fournette to do theirs.