I do not necessarily know if you can be a breakout candidate when you are a rookie and a top 5 pick but my selection for breakout candidate is Jacksonville Jaguars RB, Leonard Fournette. He landed in the best spot for him while still being a top five pick. He lands with a team who is prepped and ready to make a stride in the right direction. This same team has not had a 1000-yard runner since 2011 with Maurice Jones Drew and before that was 2007 with Fred Taylor. Blake Bortles will continue to improve but will take great steps with a running game. It will allow him to play better and defenses will have to honor the running game instead of dropping eight all the time. How good of a runner is he? He has earned the nickname The Human Sledgehammer. Last season at LSU while nursing an ankle injury he had a TD run that team officials clocked at 22.9 Miles per Hour. To contrast, it would have been the second fastest play in the NFL bested only by a Tyreek Hill kickoff return for a TD, which the officials called back.
In addition to being a good runner, Leonard Fournette has also shown that he can be a great pass catching back and provides yet another weapon for Blake Bortles in addition to Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson. He is a very good runner with and without the ball, which makes him dangerous to defenses. The thing he will need to work on this year is pass blocking as if the Jaguars are going to trust him to be the every down back he is going to need to learn how to pick up the blitz. The other thing he will need to watch out for is injuries. They are becoming a problem. So much so, they now carry the label as “chronic”.
If the Jacksonville Jaguars can keep him healthy, I predict he will rush for 1150+ yards and score about 10 TDs in route to being one of the top candidates for rookie of the year. If they get that kind of production out of him than the Jaguars will improve to be one of the most improved teams this year. With Leonard Fournette, the Jacksonville Jaguars can be at least 10-6 this season.
Editor’s Note: This article can also be seen in our upcoming NFL Preview.