NFL Draft 2017: Maurice Jones-Drew doesn’t see Leonard Fournette as a fit with Jacksonville Jaguars
PHILADELPHIA — The Jacksonville Jaguars were looking for more offense to take the pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles, so the team selected LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL draft on Thursday night.
The franchise’s second all-time leading rusher disagrees with the selection of Fournette, though.
NFL Network analyst Maurice Jones-Drew, speaking Wednesday afternoon at a luncheon with other analysts from the network, said the Jaguars offense isn’t at the point where it caters to a running back like Fournette.
“To me, I don’t like that fit right now because the Jags offensive line isn’t ready for that,” Jones-Drew said. “I feel like you need to build more the, I call them the front six — your tight end, your O-linemen. You have to do those things first before you put a running back back there.”
NFL Draft 2017: New Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette meets the media
The 5-foot-8, 205-pound Jones-Drew rushed for 8,071 yards and 68 touchdowns in eight years with the Jaguars. He rushed for double-digit touchdowns three times and was an All-Pro in 2011 when he rushed 1,606 yards and eight touchdowns.
Fournette has been a hyped prospect since early in his high school career, and he possesses battering ram size at 6-feet, 240 pounds. He rushed for 3,830 yards and 40 touchdowns in his career, including 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore.
The issue with Fournette’s fit with the Jaguars, Jones-Drew said, is that Fournette is too much of a straight-line runner. With the porous nature of the Jaguars offensive line, Fournette doesn’t have the ability to cut and make defenders in the backfield. He’s more inclined to bowl opponents over, which won’t play as well.
“For me, he’s a guy that needs a crease though. He’s not a guy that’s going to create on his own. He’s not a guy that’s going to stop and cut and move and miss. He’s going to either run through the hole if there’s a hole or he’s going to create a hole. … I don’t think the Jaguars need that right now.”
Jones-Drew said the Jaguars need to build their offensive line in the lower rounds of the draft — there’s still the chance to do that on Friday and Saturday — before they can become a power running team with Fournette.
Still, Fournette possesses a rare combination of size and speed, and he has the body type to be a successful running back in the NFL.
For Jones-Drew, though, there’s some doubt in what Fournette can do in Jacksonville. The former star wants to see his former team be successful, but he doesn’t see it happening with Fournette lining up behind Bortles in the backfield.
“When I watch the Jags, a lot of their backs are cutting, they’re making cuts two yards in the backfield,” Jones-Drew said. “I don’t care who you have back there. You could put Walter Payton back there. They’re not going to be successful with that. Barry Sanders can’t do that every play, and so before you go and get Fournette because his running style is so direct and so straightforward, he doesn’t have a lot of wiggle where he could stop and cut and move. He’s more of a straight, get his shoulders square and run downhill. I don’t think that’s going to be a good fit.”