After the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him 4th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, Leonard Fournette should be in the mix for rookie of the year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars made a massive move in the 2017 NFL, effectively changing the identity of their entire offense by selecting Leonard Fournette in the first round. A team doesn’t take a running back in the top five of a draft in 2017 if they aren’t planning to utilize him early and often.
With the amount of touches Fournette is expected to get, it would be a massive disappointment if he didn’t produce at a sizable clip. Consequently, his production should warrant consideration for offensive rookie of the year purely on numbers alone.
NFL.com analysts agree, as they collectively ranked Fournette as the top candidate to receive the annual honor awarded to the best offensive rookie:
"1. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville JaguarsTotal points: 130Highest ranking: 1stLowest ranking: 2ndThe comparisons between Fournette’s rookie year and Ezekiel Elliott‘s, particularly given that they were both chosen with the No. 4 pick, are inevitable. But the gap between the Jaguars’ offensive line and the Cowboys’ line Elliott starred behind is canyon-like. Nevertheless, Fournette will be fed plenty of footballs in Jacksonville, and if second-round pick Cam Robinson is an immediate success (probably at right tackle), Fournette will be better off for it. Bottom line, If he doesn’t win OROY, it won’t be for a lack of touches."
The fantasy football effect is strong in this particular group of analysts, as the next two players in the rankings are also running backs (Dalvin Cook is second and Christian McCaffrey is third).
It’s also interesting that Fournette, Cook, and McCaffrey are the favorites for the award considering they are going to operate behind some relatively bad offensive lines. Fournette and Cook in particular will be relying on some pretty horrific run blocking lines. McCaffrey at least has the advantage of being a substantial part of the passing game.
Regardless, I think Fournette will be in the conversation for rookie of the year, as he should be given his lofty draft status.