Leonard Fournette not only is the best running back in the 2017 NFL Draft, but some believe the LSU product might be the best running back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson. This scouting report goes even further.
Fournette at the NFL Combine ran a 4.51 40-yard dash. The 6-0, 240-pound running back in three seasons at LSU rushed for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns. Here is Fournette's 2017 NFL Draft scouting report, provided by Optimum Scouting's 2017 NFL Draft Guide.
Leonard Fournette NFL Combine results
40-yard dash: 4.51
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NFL Draft picks 2017: Leonard Fournette
A Louisiana native who opted to stay in-state after a tumultuous childhood thanks to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Fournette truly is one of the most special running back talents we've seen since Bo Jackson.
While he's not as impressive anticipation-wise as Ezekiel Elliott or as finished in multi-scheme running as Todd Gurley or Adrian Peterson were coming out of college, Fournette is freakishly balanced, explosive and controlled at the second level.
Athletically, Fournette has the unique high-cut, upright running style that promotes linear explosiveness. Yet he is able to bend at the knee and hip to engage with good pad level through contact and adjust laterally in the open field.
Despite being a 240-pound running back, Fournette is able to accelerate naturally after receiving the hand-off, though he could be a bit more in control and less rushed in getting to his landmark as he works post-snap. His ability to stay tight gives him ample opportunity to accelerate, take advantage of blockers and reach the second level with a full head of steam.
Fournette struggles when his initial read isn't available, and he's not quick to adjust laterally. He is not best used on outside zone runs without a top-tier offensive line. Like his comparable players, Fournette in the NFL will rely on strong interior offensive line play and adequate pull/second level blockers to allow him to accelerate.
He can adjust laterally, but he doesn't have the initial lateral quickness to make something out of nothing, which was apparent against Alabama. He does, however, have lateral shifting control and subtle movements while accelerating and working at the second level. He is phenomenal at adjusting his body to encourage arm tackles.
When Fournette is forced to embrace head-on contact, his flexibility allows him to finish upfield with power. He's an adequate pass-catcher, and he got reps at multiple positions out of the backfield at LSU. While not an immediate impact in this area, he's a capable third-down option and has shown promise and natural power/willingness for contact in pass blocking.
Fournette is a remarkable talent. His occasional frustrating games and need for adequate offensive line play at the second level shouldn't drop him. If he can land with a team that can harness his upside, Fournette could quickly become the most talented running back in the NFL.
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This NFL Draft scouting report is included in Optimum Scouting’s 2017 NFL Draft Guide, which is available for purchase here. The draft guide includes 300-plus scouting reports as well as position-specific analytics for prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft.
(Report by Eric Galko)