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Top 3 reasons why Leonard Fournette is not the best running back in 2017 NFL Draft

Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
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2017 NFL Draft
2017 NFL Draft

Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

There is a ton of hype around running back Leonard Fournette heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, it’s just that in the grand scheme of things.

People who think Leonard Fournette is the best running back in the 2017 NFL draft need to call Dr. Emmett Brown, hop in his DeLorean, and travel back to the 90s.

Here’s how I personally rank the running backs heading into this year’s draft:

1. Christian McCaffrey 2. Dalvin Cook 3. Joe Mixon 4. Leonard Fournette 5. Alvin Kamara

Fournette has been compared to Adrian Peterson by some, and NFL.com compares him to Bo Jackson.  While I see the comparison in some aspects, it’s a little shortsighted.

He does have a rare combination of size and speed.  However, that’s really where the comparisons should end, especially in the NFL.

Let’s take a look at the top three reasons why Fournette isn’t actually the best running back in this year’s draft.

Next: 3. Fournette won't make defenders miss

Nov 5, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) is tackled by Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson (54) during the third quarter of a game at Tiger Stadium. Alabama defeated LSU 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

3. Fournette won’t make defenders miss

When you look at the tape and highlights, you very rarely see Fournette take runs to the outside and make defenders miss.  Most of his big runs are up the middle and he runs over defenders then accelerates.

Fournette is a straight-line runner who doesn’t give the ability to plant and change directions, a la Barry Sanders.  His inability to cut back leaves him as a middle of the field runner.

That’s problematic because then teams can stack the box against him.  His lack of moves limits his ability to make guys miss in the middle as well, which will lead to a lot of 1-yard and no gain runs.

The players are bigger, faster, and stronger in the NFL, and the defensive linemen and linebackers will attack the hole at meet him at the point of attack quickly.  He will be stopped short more often than in college, which will lead to less long runs.

Next: 2. Bruising style could lead to short career

Nov 12, 2016; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks defensive lineman McTelvin Agim (3) tackles LSU Tigers running back Leonard Fournette (7) during the second quarter of the game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

2. Bruising style could lead to short career

Some compare Fournette to Pro Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell.  Some may look at that as a compliment, but NFL teams may be leery of that comparison.

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Campbell was one of the best running backs in NFL history, but his career was short-lived because he decided to go head-on into the fire and give as much punishment as the defenders.  He only lasted nine seasons, and he only had 2,187 career carries as a result.

As a result of his lack of agility, he has to play this style, which could lead to a shorter career.  When evaluating players, their eventual availability is key.

He’s a bruiser, no doubt, but it’s a major concern.  He has moved down draft boards due to this, which general managers and scouts know could be a major problem down the road of his pro career.

Next: 1. Limited in passing game

1. Limited in passing game

If there’s one major flaw in Fournette’s game, it’s this.  He is, by no means, a three-down NFL running back.

He has speed, explosiveness, and power that few in this draft class have as a package.  With that said, Fournette is a power runner with the ability to break it open up the middle, and not an all-around back.

Fournette lacks the skills as both a route runner and a pass protector to be reliable in obvious passing situations.  He didn’t show quality effort in assisting in the blocking game by chipping in LSU’s passing attack.

Next: Marshon Lattimore should be primary draft target of the Jets

As a result, he can’t be on the field in obvious passing situations.  That easily drops him in the rankings.

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