It’s a topic of conversation many NFL fans may discuss, but in terms of those who bleed black and teal down here in Jacksonville, there is no question that Leonard Fournette is the best running back in the AFC South.
The Jacksonville Jaguars second-year starter is expecting big things from himself and this offense in 2018. There is no secret to the fact this team will use the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft much like they did last season, hoping for even better results. Fournette accepts the challenge, willingly.
When discussing who the best runner is in this division, will there be an argument about Fournette’s status as the best? Will the Tennessee Titans third-year back Derrick Henry give the former LSU star a run for his money
The Fournette-Henry discussion dates back to 2015 with the Heisman Trophy favorite Fournette was stymied by the Alabama defense, gaining just 31 yards on 19 carries. The tide turned (no pun intended) when Henry galloped for 210 yards and three touchdowns. On that evening in Tuscaloosa, the battle for college football’s biggest individual honor changed hands.
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Fournette comes to camp leaner and in better shape than last season. Henry has been awarded the starting role because of DeMarco Murray’s departure. Henry played the majority of last season as the starter due to injuries. When we talk about one-on-one competitions amongst NFL players, it’s usually to discuss quarterbacks. This is the kind of rivalry that could last half a decade.
In my mind, Fournette is the best of the four starters in the AFC South, Henry will be a close second. Indianapolis has Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin. The Houston Texans have Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue.
The Titans also have Dion Lewis, who figures to be a bigger part of the team’s offense, which could take carries away from Henry.
The Jaguars are committed to giving Fournette the majority of carries this season. As the bell cow back in this offense, he could approach 1,300 yards this season.
Henry is a bigger (6-foot-3, 247 pounds) back who runs high when busting through the offensive line. Fournette runs lower to the ground and in a straight-forward line. While both teams have solid offensive lines, the mobility of Marcus Mariota will also take carries away from his lead tailback.
Too many options in the Titan’s offense could hurt Henry’s productivity.
The Jaguars rely on the run to set up the pass. Quarterback Blake Bortles will be asked to manage games and all the league’s best running game (141.6 yards per game) lead the way. For that reason alone, Fournette will be the best running back in the AFC South.