JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I’m willing to be gladly surprised, especially if Leonard Fournette is everything the Jaguars think he is.
“He’s special, he’s special,” Jaguars VP of Football operations Tom Coughlin repeated at the podium tonight after making the pick. “We need players who can put it in the end zone. This guy can do that.”
With the 4th pick, the Jaguars took virtually no time to select Fournette, a 6’0” 240 lb. running back from LSU. I liked Solomon Thomas but he was gone. They said they didn’t consider trading down (“We knew if they hadn’t called already, they weren’t going to,” according to GM Dave Caldwell.)
They had Fournette as the next highest rated player along with safety Jamal Adams, also from LSU but Coughlin said, “We need playmakers.” (They also liked Myles Garrett and Thomas who were taken 1st and 3rd this year.)
Over and over, first GM Dave Caldwell then Head Coach Doug Marrone and finally Coughlin used the word “physical.”
They like how Fournette can be a physical player at the point of attack but also can get downfield when necessary.
“He’s powerful and can step on the gas when necessary,” according to TC.
"It puts a lot of spotlight on the offensive line,” Marrone said when asked about running behind the current Jaguars O-Line. “One can help the other. We had a lot of information on Leonard. How he ran in track, baseball. We knew a lot about him.”
With so many questions about the Jaguars offensive line going into 2017, it’s legitimate to wonder how he’ll produce if the guys up front aren’t what the Jaguars brass are hoping they become. Marrone addressed that, kind of, saying, “We need to be physical. We need to practice like that and more importantly, we need to play that way.”
Physical is one of the first things Caldwell said about Fournette when explaining the selection process. “Us being physical, being able to run the ball, will take some pressure off the quarterback.”
But Fournette takes exception to the thought that he’s a “pounder” and not elusive. “I ran track, I can run, (just over 21 seconds in the 200). When it gets on the field (his speed) it surprises a lot of people.”
When asked what would be a successful rookie season, Fournette said, “A Super Bowl,” without a hint of sarcasm. But it was clear listening to and watching him that he was thinking about team goals before any individual goals. “It’s a long process, visiting all those teams. I’m glad to have a new home and a new family.”
And regarding the Jaguars leadership, Fournette said Odell Beckham, Jr. clued him in when he was with the Giants. “I know Coach Coughlin don’t play no games. Odell told me that.”
So Coughlin stuck to his mantra of “Take the best player available” and was able to fulfill a need at the same time. “You got it,” he told me when I presented that scenario. Tom didn’t have to break any deadlocks since Garrett and Thomas were taken in front of the Jaguars and “getting the ball in the end zone” was clearly a priority over safety.
Asked to compare Fournette to Fred Taylor, the ninth overall pick in a Coughlin draft, Tom said, “The one thing they both did is put it in the end zone. That’s what we need.”