If you don’t know the name Leonard Fournette, chances are you’ve been living under a rock for the past 3 years or so. Since he step foot on campus in Baton Rouge, Fournette has been praised as a godsend and even considered a Phenom and generational talent at the collegiate level. There hasn’t been a player in quite sometime to match the hype that he’s received in the past couple seasons. There have been numerous debates whether or not he translates well to the NFL, and while his talent is undeniable, he does have some question marks.
Name: Leonard Fournette
Draft Grade: Top 15
Positives: A herculean build with above-average height, broad shoulders, and a well proportioned frame. Excellent strength and thickness throughout his body. Very good long speed. Builds up his speed quickly and rarely gets caught. Can turn his hips and change direction fluidly. Good ankle flexion. Utilizes an effective jump-cut and makes smooth directional changes in the open field. Run power is exceptional. Lowers himself and bucks low defenders into the air like a bull. Will bury back end defenders into the turf and run over them. Intimidated defenses. Generally showed good vision and patience. Handled loaded boxes in a one-dimensional offense and was amazingly productive. Shows excellent toughness running inside and falling forward. Determined north-south runner who makes up his mind quickly. Rarely gets taken down by one defender. Looks to have good hands in pass-catching situations and looks natural plucking the ball. Should be an asset in the passing game. Size and strength give him great potential as a pass-blocker. Known as a quiet leader who leads by example. A hard worker in the weight room. Views football as a part of his life and takes academics, daughter, and his future seriously. Has endured tremendous adversity and local fame well. Speaks out about injustice publicly and handles it in a responsible way NFL teams prefer. Family focused with a good support system.
Negatives: Has the typical downfalls many big backs have to endure. Height and the inability to drop his hips leave him often running upright which makes him vulnerable to additional punishment. Not exceptionally explosive out of his cuts. Not quick enough running the loop to the outside and often fails to generate space for himself running east-west. Size and foot quickness do not allow him much creative freedom. Inconsistent in pass-protection and doesn’t naturally love to do it. It has been implied he could have long-term ankle problems. His body type and run style make long-term durability more of a concern. Has experienced a lot of violence and the death of many family members and friends. Has been witness to multiple murders. Missed 5 games his junior season due to ankle injury.
Outlook: Leonard Fournette is a special player who combines great size, strength and speed and should look forward to not being the sole focus of opposing defenses for the first time in his life next season. There have been some criticisms about his play style fitting at the next level but players like Fournette have found great success throughout the history of the NFL. Fournette has rare talent and should find instant success as an inside runner. His value is in the top half of the first round.