When the Jacksonville Jaguars selected LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the No. 4 pick in April’s draft, the assumption was he’d enter camp as the starter with an offensive philosophy that will be built around his strengths.
Instead, coach Doug Marrone made it clear on Saturday after the team’s second practice of rookie minicamp, that Fournette will have to earn the role as the Jaguars’ featured back.
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“Obviously when we made the pick we were thinking about [how] he can be someone like that,” Marrone said via ESPN. “Obviously he’s shown that ability, but at the same sense, when you have the team, the one thing about a team is you have to earn that. So he’s going to have to go and show that he has to do that.”
Marrone is doing the right thing as a coach who’s trying to toe the difficult line of being fair to his veteran players and stating the obvious about a supremely talented rookie. The reality, however, is it would take a catastrophic injury or monumental Trent Richardson-like bust for Fournette to be anything but the centerpiece of the running game.
Fournette was a dominant force at LSU during his three seasons on campus. His best season came in 2015 when he carried the ball 300 times for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns. He had a disappointing 2016 by his standards, totaling only 843 yards and eight touchdowns.
Despite a somewhat disappointing draft process — one that included a sub-par NFL Combine performance — Fournette’s tape was simply too good to pass on for Jacksonville.
Fournette is the kind of talent who will challenge for the NFL’s rookie of the year award in 2017. He’s that good, and Marrone will have little difficulty finding that out in training camp.