Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: 2017 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Oct 17, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) before a game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 17, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) before a game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /
2017 NFL Draft: Leonard Fournette
Oct 17, 2015; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) before a game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Player Summary

Leonard Fournette, a 2014 five-star recruit, started 24 of 32 career games for LSU. He missed five games throughout the 2016 season as a result of a nagging ankle injury, but still ran for over 120 yards per game in the contests he did suit up for. Fournette set the school record for most rushing yards in a single season with 1,953 in 2015 and sits third on the all-time list at LSU with 3,830 yards on the ground.

As a junior, he is not eligible for postseason all-star games, however he is expected to participate in the Scouting Combine. He possesses an elite combination of size and speed on a solid frame with very good athletic ability.


Height: 6’1”

Weight: 235 lbs

Games Watched

2016: Alabama, Ole Miss, Wisconsin

2015: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn


After taking the handoff, Leonard Fournette displays good awareness and vision to find the open running lane before making a quick cut and bursting through the hole. In the play below, Fournette reads the right guard who makes his way to the second level of the defense. After initially following his fullback to the left, Fournette puts his foot in the ground and cuts back to the right without losing speed. He demonstrates the play speed needed to accelerate through the open lane before it closes and sprints downfield for a 71-yard gain.

The play above is just one example of why he’s one of the most athletic rushers in the nation despite being listed at 235 pounds. Whether in the backfield or the secondary, Fournette shows off very good lateral agility with the separation speed to run away from defenders.

When he’s not eluding defenders, Fournette utilizes his size and power to aggressively attack opponents. He isn’t afraid to initiate contact and displays solid balance to run over and bounce off would-be tacklers. When combining his vision, agility and power, plays like this are going to happen.

Inside the hole or outside the tackles, Fournette possesses the play strength required to win one-on-one battles. Even with multiple defenders trying to bring him down, Fournette exhibits elite finishing ability by keeping his legs churning to push the pile and fall forward for extra yards.

As a receiver, Fournette catches the ball with his hands and turns upfield quickly. Similar to when he takes the handoff, it doesn’t take long for Fournette to accelerate to full speed. Once that occurs, he looks for a defender to punish.

As a ball carrier, Fournette displays solid ball security. He does a good job of switching the ball to his outside arm and covering up through contact. In his career with the Tigers, he fumbled the ball on 1.17% of his total touches, which is much better than Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, who fumbled on 1.7% of his touches.

Despite his widely-acknowledged struggles against Alabama, Fournette has demonstrated very good competitive toughness by rising to the occasion in big games. In two bowl games and 10 games against ranked teams other than the Crimson Tide, Fournette ran the ball 229 times for 1,625 yards and 20 touchdowns. That’s an average of 135 rush yards per game and 7.1 yards per carry.

Fournette excelled in critical situations as well. From inside the 10-yard line, he scored 15 times on 50 carries. That scoring rate is nearly identical to that of LeGarrette Blount of the New England Patriots; one of the best goal line backs in the NFL.


Leonard Fournette possesses only adequate instincts and does not display patience in the backfield when the running lane isn’t immediately open. Rather than wait for the blocks to create a lane, he’ll try to power his way through the pile or outrun the defense to the edge. In this play, Fournette doesn’t wait for the cutback lane to open and tries to improvise by bouncing the play outside. While this may have generated big gains against other opponents, Alabama swarmed into the backfield to stop Fournette for a big loss.

The passing game is where Fournette has the most room to grow. He’s a marginal route runner who will break off or stop his route all together if the ball isn’t coming his way. When the ball does go his way, Fournette won’t drop many passes, however he does struggle adjusting to balls that aren’t thrown right at him.

Fournette is a marginal pass protector who will try to cut or throw a shoulder at a defender rather than setting an anchor and taking on the rusher head on. On this play from the 2016 season opener against Wisconsin, Fournette does not set his feet and ends up missing the block entirely. He tries to throw his arm around the defender at the last minute, but it’s too late and his quarterback has to throw the ball away.

Although Alabama has been called Fournette’s kryptonite, it would be more accurate to call Alabama the kryptonite of the LSU offensive line. Fournette averaged just 48 yards rushing per game against the Crimson Tide, but after watching the tape, there wasn’t much Fournette could have done. Alabama generated penetration immediately and the line of scrimmage on many of his runs was basically three yards in the backfield.


Overall, Leonard Fournette is a starting running back at the next level who can succeed in any scheme. He wins with an elite combination of vision, speed and power. He is not someone who is ready to contribute as a third-down back at this point in his career. Despite the ankle injury and struggles against Alabama’s NFL-caliber defense, Fournette is a rare talent who should be graded higher than former top-10 picks Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott.

Barring any long-term concerns regarding Fournette’s ankle, he’ll join Gurley and Elliott as top-10 picks. Although Fournette could take a ton of pressure off the quarterback carousel in Cleveland, he’s more likely going to come off the board between the fourth and eighth picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the fourth pick in the draft and could pair Fournette with Chris Ivory to help out Blake Bortles. T.J. Yeldon is the current backup, however it wouldn’t cost much to release him if a trade partner can’t be found.

If Jacksonville passes up Fournette, the New York Jets at six or the Carolina Panthers at eight make the most sense. Although the draft is more than four months away, there doesn’t appear to be a scenario in which Fournette slides past Carolina.

Regardless of where he ends up, Leonard Fournette is going to be creating havoc in the NFL for a long time. He’s the best offensive prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft and will be an absolute steal if he slides out of the top five.