In a curious move, former Jaguars star running back Maurice Jones-Drew says he’d rather have Kareem Hunt and Joe Mixon over Leonard Fournette.
The Jacksonville Jaguars spent the fourth overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft on a running back in an era where passing wins football games in the NFL.
Thankfully, former LSU star Leonard Fournette has played like the transcendent star many expected him to be over the course of the first six games.
In spite of the unprecedented defensive fronts he’s been facing, Fournette has thrived and carried the Jacksonville offense without much help from the quarterback position.
In a year where rookie running backs are dominating, Fournette is impossible to ignore.
Former Jaguar legend Maurice Jones-Drew sorted through all the rookie running backs, and shockingly he had Fournette 3rd in a list of guys he’d want long-term.
"He’s lived up to everything we thought he was going to be coming out of the draft. Fournette, who’s actually faster than I initially thought, is an explosive, downhill power runner who accelerates through contact and is dangerous in the open field. He’s getting a lot of carries right now, averaging nearly 22 per game. Combine that with his physical running style, and I’m hoping he stays healthier than he did in college."
I’m somewhat surprised – Fournette was considered far and away the best running back prospect in this year’s draft and he’s lived up to the billing, despite running into 8 and 9-man boxes on almost every carry. He’s shown the ability to bust the long run but also the wherewithal to fall forward and get one or two yards when that’s all he can get.
Jones-Drew instead ranks Kareem Hunt first and, somewhat absurdly, Joe Mixon second.
Mojo is seemingly weighting the “long-term” prognosis more than anything else, as he says in his analysis of Hunt.
"I want Hunt for the long haul not because he’s leading the league in rushing yards and scrimmage yards, but because he’s shown he can handle a lot of touches and rarely takes head-on hits. His style of play gives him the ability to have a longer career than most."
He can try and say that the numbers aren’t affecting his ranking, but that’s just not true – Hunt has been thrust into the spotlight solely because he’s been putting up unsustainable numbers over the first 6 weeks. Hunt is the bellcow on that Chiefs offense, the same way Fournette is on the Jags, except Hunt has the immeasurably advantage of a functional quarterback.
Ranking Mixon ahead of Fournette is inexcusable. Mixon has a significantly worse yard per carry average than Fournette and he hasn’t yet established himself as the guy in Cincinnati. Mixon will probably end up being a solid and productive back, but he’s just not as talented as Fournette.
If we went back and re-drafted the running backs from this year’s class, Fournette would still be the first to go and I don’t think any general manager would disagree.