Where does the Jaguars Leonard Fournette rank amongst NFL running backs?
By David Levin
Former Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew ranks current Jacksonville starter Leonard Fournette 16th amongst league starters.
Former NFL running backs know a thing or two about ranking current runners in the league. Once again, NFL.com has called upon former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew to rank all 32 starters in the league for 2019.
Of course, in our neck of the woods, we are only interested in where he places Leonard Fournette on this list. Jones-Drew, who is the Jaguars second all-time leading rusher, puts Fournette right in the middle of the pack at No. 16 on his list.
For a player who has been as controversial and maligned in his two seasons in the league, it could be inferred the ranking could be a lot worse. Jones-Drew does think there is potential for a better season from the former first-round draft pick out of LSU. But Fournette, if he wants to rise toward the list of elite runners in the NFL, must commit himself to make improvements on and off the field.
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The NFL.com analyst believes the Jaguars front office has brought in the right quarterback to help Fournette’s cause this coming season.
"“Bringing in Nick Foles will definitely help the Jaguars offensively, but the team is also going to need a bounce-back year from Fournette. He was about half as productive as he was in 2017, the season in which the team was a win away from the Super Bowl. He must return to rookie form,” Jones-Drew writes.“To do so, Fournette needs to dedicate his time to getting his body right. Being in great health doesn’t just happen overnight; the work starts long before Week 1.”"
That long work includes remaining in shape, coming to training camp and continuing to pick up the new offense that offensive coordinator John DeFilippo has installed and continuing to foster a relationship with new running backs coach Terry Robiskie.
The Jaguars also revamped the running back room, where four new sets of legs are part of the competition for three spots behind Fournette, who is the undisputed starter.
The team’s running game took a major tumble in 2018 after leading the league in yards per game the previous season. Fournette missed eight games, which severely hampered any progress the team could make moving the football. A disastrous season with the offensive line also contributed to a lack of production.
I’m not going to mention the issues the team had with the passing game. Bringing in both Foles and DeFilippo should help turn things around this season.
Fournette is ranked by Jones-Drew right behind Tennessee’s Derrick Henry. Marlon Mack of the Colts was ranked 24th overall. Lamar Miller, the lead back in Houston, came in at No. 30.