Running back Leonard Fournette shouldered a significant load during his three years with the LSU Tigers, and he'll look to do the same for the Jacksonville Jaguars after they selected him fourth overall in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft on Thursday in Philadelphia.
Former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson thought Fournette would be a good pick wherever he landed:
The Boston Globe's Ben Volin was a little more skeptical of the Jaguars' target:
ESPN.com's Bill Barnwell noted the team's recent history with the running back position:
Here are some of the best reactions to the selection:
Fournette was limited to seven appearances last season because of nagging ankle injuries, and his production suffered as a result. In 144 total touches, Fournette recorded 989 yards and eight touchdowns from scrimmage.
However, his sophomore season was a sight to behold.
In 12 games during the Tigers' 2015 campaign, Fournette rushed 300 times for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns as he cemented himself as the nation's top running back. As if those numbers weren't impressive enough, Fournette also forced a nation-high 85 missed tackles thanks to his sensational blend of size (6'0", 240 lbs) and speed, according to Pro Football Focus.
He displayed those qualities at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, recording the fastest 40-yard-dash time among running backs weighing at least 240 pounds, per NFL Research:
"My motto is 'Never let one man take you down,'" Fournette said in March, according to the Charlotte Observer's Joseph Person. "That's my whole purpose."
That much was clear in Week 3 of the 2016 season, when Fournette tossed a would-be Mississippi State tackler into the turf and picked up a first down:
Fournette may not shed defenders with the same ease in the pros, but there's reason to believe he'll be a force to be reckoned with after he bulldozed opponents during his three years in Death Valley.
Moving forward, look for the Jaguars to install the 22-year-old as a primary component of their rushing rotation in hopes of taking some pressure off quarterback Blake Bortles to establish some more offensive balance in 2017.
However, questions will remain about the rest of the team's rushing rotation, considering T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory split carries a season ago.
Now, the pair will presumably have to compete for the No. 2 job behind Fournette as Jacksonville continues renovating its offense.