The impact that 2016 third overall pick Ezekiel Elliott had on the Dallas Cowboys last season was there for all to see, which has led to teams keeping tabs on the 2017 draft’s best running backs. Former LSU Tiger Leonard Fournette is one of the best in the nation.
Name: Leonard Fournette
Date of birth: January 18th 1995
High School: St Augustine
Height: 6 ft 1
Weight: 235 lb
Born in New Orleans, Fournette attended St. Augustine High School and competed in football and track. Fournette started for the varsity football team in his freshman year, rushing for over 2,500 yards and 30 scores, becoming the first ever high school freshman to receive a scholarship offer from Louisiana State.
After adding another 4,035 yards and 57 touchdowns in his sophomore and junior years, Fournette was regarded as the best running back in the state. In his senior year, Fournette rushed for 262 yards and 2 touchdowns in a nationally televised game against Malachi Dupre’s John Curtis Christian on ESPN2.
Following his senior year, Fournette was named Louisiana’s 2013 Mr. Football, named an All-American and Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today, and invited to participate in the Under Armour All-America Game. Following the game, Fournette announced he had decided to attend Louisiana State University.
After being dubbed “the next Adrian Peterson” by college football fans prior to his freshman year, Tigers head coach Les Miles called for them to be patient with Fournette. He finished his freshman season with 1034 yards from 187 attempts (5.5 avg), 10 touchdowns, in addition to 127 receiving yards. He also featured on kick returns with 625 yards from 25 attempts, including one 100-yard return for a touchdown against Notre Dame in the 2014 Music City Bowl.
In his sophomore season, Fournette set school records with in yards with 1,953 and 22 touchdowns and received the NCAA rushing title for averaging the most rushing yards per game over a season. He also recorded a career high in receiving yards (253), and added 1 receiving touchdown. Fournette finished the season by running for 212 yards and 5 total touchdowns against Texas Tech in the 2015 Texas Bowl. Fournette was earned Consensus All-American honours after being named to the first team by Associated Press (AP), the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America.
Prior to Fournette’s junior season he was among the favourites to win the Heisman Trophy, but suffered a high ankle sprain in a pre-season scrimmage game that would hamper his final season with LSU. He returned in time to feature in the Tigers first game of the season against Wisconsin, but injured the same ankle late in the game. After missing the Tigers next game against Jacksonville State, he bruised his ankle against Auburn and was ruled out of the next two games.
Fournette returned for LSU’s match versus Ole Miss, and set a school record in single-game rushing yards (284), adding 3 touchdowns. Although he wasn’t expected to play against Florida, and didn’t suit up for pregame warm-ups, Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron allowed him to play following a pre-game scuffle in which he pushed a Florida assistant coach. Fournette only managed 40 yards from 12 carries, missing the entire fourth quarter. After not travelling with the team for their final game of the season against Texas A&M, Fournette finished the 2016 season with 843 yards from 129 carries (6.5 avg), 8 touchdowns and 15 receptions for 146 yards.
- Solid frame well built physique to deal with NFL hits and tackles
- Wears down defenders with punishing power
- Consistently picks up yards after contact
- Makes smooth, fast cuts that not many his size can
- Shifts through gears in second level
- Solid in pass protection
- Doesn’t back down against bigger defenders (set rushing record for LSU against #1 ranked run defence vs Ole Miss)
- Reliable pass protector
- Decision making can be inconsistent at line of scrimmage
- Relies on offensive linemen making blocks and holes for him
- Had a few dropped passes in college, but a good option to have
- Eight career fumbles point to ball security issues
- Aggressive and physical run style can lead to injuries
IDEAL NFL FIT
- Carolina Panthers
- Minnesota Vikings
- New York Giants
- Seattle Seahawks
Fournette often carried LSU to wins with his wear-down defenders physicality, much like Adrian Peterson has done with the Minnesota Vikings for most of his NFL career. Both are long, well built, and the sort of runners capable of smashing through defensive front lines before flying past secondary players.
PROJECTION: Early 1st round.