A three-year starter in LSU's power-I offense, Fournette is freakishly gifted with his blend of size, athleticism and power and the NFL hasn't seen a running back with his skill-set in quite some time -- the closest active NFL comparison in terms of body type and natural ability is Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.
Out of high school, Fournette was nationally considered one of the best recruits in the country, regardless of position, and stayed close to home, committing to the Tigers. He worked his way into the running back rotation with Terrence Magee and Kenny Hilliard in 2014, leading LSU with school freshman record 1,034 rushing yards to earn a spot on the All-SEC Freshman team. Fournette had his most productive season as a sophomore and set new LSU records with 1,953 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, leading the nation with 162.8 rushing yards per game. He earned Consensus First Team All-America and All-SEC honors in 2015, rushing for 100+ yards in 10 of the 12 games. Fournette battled injuries as a junior in 2016 and finished second on the team with 843 rushing yards, but led LSU with 120.4 rushing yards per game and averaged 6.5 yards per carry, earning Second Team All-SEC honors.
Weight was a talking point at the NFL Scouting Combine -- "too much water" was Fournette's defense for hitting 240 on the scales -- but he was back to his routine playing weight for LSU's pro day. A focused Fournette would be a unique, game-changing talent.
Fournette's package of skills makes him a nightmare for second level defenders once he gets downhill, lowering his pads and barreling through bodies like a hot knife through butter. While the physical traits are elite, there is more to being productive at the running back position and Fournette needs to improve his decision-making and tempo in the NFL, especially when the designed hole doesn't develop. The greatest variables with Fournette and his NFL projection is his development in the passing game (blocking and receiving) and the long-term diagnosis of his left ankle injury.
STRENGTHS: Built like a linebacker with his big-boned frame and developed physique. The most physical finisher at contact I've scouted at the position, delivering punishment with an impressive combination of violence, power and determination. Lowers his pads and looks like a hammer in search of a nail. Runs with outstanding balance to keep or regain his momentum while putting tire tracks on defenders. Consistently picks up yardage after contact. Controlled, athletic movements in the backfield with the cut-and-accelerate skills few players his size possess. Follows his blocks and hits the hole with conviction. Has second level speed to pull away from defenders in pursuit. Tough competitor, takes abuse and continues to do his job. Solid receiving option with strong hands to finish catches in traffic -- also has experience tracking the ball downfield on wheel routes. Banger in pass protection, knocking rushers off balance when he launches his heavy shoulder into defenders. Leaves LSU ranked No. 4 on the school's all-time rushing list (3,830) and holds the program records for single season yards (1,953, 2015) and single game yards (284, Oct. 2016).
WEAKNESSES: Inconsistent decision-making at times behind the line of scrimmage, allowing defenders to reset and get a read on him. Most of his impressive runs on tape came from large holes created by his blockers with not enough examples of him creating on his own vs. the first wave of the defense. Able to bounce off bodies, but runs too hard at times with his forward momentum in overdrive, making it too easy for defenders to trip him up. Several examples of dropped passes on film and needs to improve his route-running out of the backfield. High ceiling as a blocker due to his frame and power, but needs technique and recognition work before he can be considered a reliable option in this area. Ball security requires improvement with eight career fumbles. Physical run style also opens himself up to more potential injuries -- missed five games in 2016 and parts of others due to a "reoccurring" issue with ligaments in his left ankle that need to be medically cleared by NFL medical staffs.
NFL COMPARISON: Larry Johnson, former Kansas City Chiefs -- It is tough to find a true apples-to-apples comparison for Fournette, but Johnson makes sense with his combination of size, power and athleticism. However, Fournette has freakish abilities that Johnson didn't.
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