Leonard Fournette’s profile is amazingly similar to Adrian Peterson’s when he was coming out of college. Both were injured a large part of their last year in college which made it hard to evaluate them through the NFL rookie evaluation period leading up to the draft. They are both big backs with great speed given their size (Fournette’s speed score is 1.56, Peterson’s is 1.53, both in the upper echelon of RB scores). Peterson was drafted by Minnesota as the seventh pick in the first round of the 2007 draft. Can Fournette equal that feet ten years later in 2017? Absolutely. I watched two games on Fournette from this past season against Ole Miss and Texas Tech.
Fournette often seems like a man among boys. He seeks out contact when necessary and breaks more than his share of tackles. When he gets up to speed he is an absolute freight train. Even with defenses scheming against him he grinds out yardage and and finds the smallest opening. To be fair, LSU’s run blocking is excellent and provides him many yards before contact on many runs. what concerns me is not on his film but rather what happened at the combine. While his speed score was elite, his vertical and broad jumps were very bad. It certainly wouldn’t prevent me from taking him in the draft, but it’s interesting to see such a poor showing from an elite athlete by all other accounts.
After watching two games, among others I’ve seen of him through his career, here’s what I see:
Smooth through the hole for a man his size
Runs away from people in the open field
Great vision and moves through traffic with ease
Seeks out contact and has stiff arm to hold people off
Used in the passing game and great in space
Patience and vision to set up blocks, cut back and find the openings
Breaks tackles and gets great yards after contact
Patient on screens and manages well in the open field
Due to Fournette’s injuries and poor showing in aspects of the combine Fournette’s DMX score is low for a prospect of his stature. His 1.03 DMX score puts him over 1.00 but just under the cutoff for decile 1. Adrian Peterson, despite his poor production score showed great athleticism and was picked high enough that his DMX score was 1.17 and finished just above the decile 1 cutoff. It will be interesting if Fournette does any agility or strength drills to at the LSU pro day to supplement what he did at the combine. If he does his score may creep up a bit but most likely he will stay in the decile 2 range
Despite his relatively poor DMX score of 1.03 (5 ranked in this draft and Ezekiel Elliott’s score was 1.45) I still feel that Fournette is a generational player. His vision, patience and size/speed combo is rare today and will make him what dynasty owners love, a three-down workhorse. As he is expected to be drafted early in the first round there is no doubt that he will start right away and will be a difference maker from the get go, assuming he can stay away from injuries as Adrian Peterson did once he left college for the pros. I rank Fournette as my #1 RB in this year’s class, above Dalvin Cook. You don’t get a chance at players like this very often, if you are sitting at 1.o1 in your draft, you take him and don’t look back.