The 2017 NFL draft was loaded, and I mean loaded, with outstanding RBs coming into the NFL this season. D’Onta Foreman, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, and Joe Mixon were all running back names that people were throwing around during the draft, and with good reason. They all have played relatively close to expectations and have been definitely putting up some good numbers between those guys. Not too shabby.
With Hunt and Fournette – we have 2 of the top 3 rookie backs this season. Let’s play the question though – which RB would you rather start your franchise with? The “Weapon” Kareem Hunt – or the “The Hammer” Leonard Fournette?
We will start with Kareem Hunt , drafted in the 3rd round – at 86 by the Kansas City Chiefs. Hunt played for Toledo and had a phenomenal career there. At 5-10 and 215lbs he is a really solid RB – one of the stronger backs, and has shown amazing football instincts on the field. And from the whole 2017 class – he was a guy that intrigued many. Not the biggest name, on the board, but a roll of the dice guy. Hunt has been nothing short of amazing at certain things, like elusiveness and catching the ball, in particular. He has been a huge part of the Chiefs success, and his power is far better than many give him credit for.
RB Leonard Fournette was looked at as the stiff arming running machine who everyone watched with their mouths open. After having a fantastic career at LSU with 40 TDs, and an incredible 6.2 YPC in an injury shortened college career, he caught the eye of NCAAFB fans and obviously professional scout teams. He was then highly drafted in the 1st rd at 4th overall, by the Jacksonville Jaguars – and he has been everything that have wanted so far.
For a team that hasn’t had a 1000 runner in their backfield since Maurice Jones-Drew in 2011. He was a perfect pick to add to their struggling offense and shaky QB, to try and give them some semblance of confidence on the offensive side of the field. Fournette is a homerun hitter if I’ve ever seen one from the draft, his breakaway ability is top notch. He is not unlike a sledgehammer being hurled at a defense, his strength and power bring levels of worry to DBs, and LBs are cautious of his massive size.
Kareem Hunt brings outstanding pass catching as he has snatched up 28 receptions this season, these are great things to get from your RB. Not only does he have the check down on lockdown, but he is 3rd on the team with 307 YDs receiving, he owns some great hands, and is blessed with excellent vision. His YAC has been outstanding because of his ability to wreck DBs ankles. Hunt continues to play a vital role in the Chiefs passing game, with 4 games where he’s posted at least 4 catches. That is huge – as he is an integral part of the passing attack for QB Alex Smith.
He runs with really good vision and exceptional instincts. With constant moving feet to elude collapsing Dlinemen, or LBs who find their way into the Chiefs backfield, he is always a threat. He is currently ranked 1st in the NFL in rushing – more than LeSean McCoy, Todd Gurley II, and even Le’Veon Bell.
Even when playing on the road, with a spectacular 6.3 YPC and adding 2 TDs, he is always keeping the Chiefs in control on the field. And if they stay on the field, it gives less offensive possessions for the opponents. It is a winning scheme, we all know. His ability to keep drives going and keep LBs aware – allows his QB to be able to catch a breath behind the line of scrimmage, keeping the attack off of him for a few.
His offensive line has had their share of problems, with opening great holes, and 22 sacks given up – and it makes him that much more impressive for how he continues to pick up 100 YD games – all the while still being the crucial focus of defensive efforts. One key area, he has struggled with, is Hunt has not been great inside the 10 – with just a 1.9 /avg down in the ugly area. That is something that falls more on his sloppy Oline, than his ability.
Leonard Fournette brings an unmatched power bulldozer mentality to the field. At 6-0 and a hazardous 230lbs he is built like a linebacker with speed like a top notch TE. He has breaking strides when he gets moving, and makes “bust loose” plays, at the drop of a dime.
During the season, Fournette has been crushing teams for a 4.6 YPC, 6 rushing TDs and numerous big plays already. He is the kind of guy that can eat up big yards in a flash – and if tackling isn’t a LBs strength – he will take it the distance in a heartbeat. Hammering it home inside the 20 – has been a beastly skill with 4 TDs and adding a receiving TD, in the “toughest area on the field.” He doesn’t have the soft hands that Hunt has attached, he is the guy that can move at raging speeds and demolish your jaw. Not unlike a wrecking ball – with destructive speed – but who has semi-deficient hands out of the backfield.
He has struggled to elude concentrated traffic at the Oline of scrimmage, at times vs the better ended teams. He also seems to start off slow – surprisingly, on early downs and short haven’t been all that great to him, with just 4 yards rushing in 1st and less than 7. And there have been times, in college, he has shown to disappear once he got hit in the backfield. As he needs some time to get fully up to speed. Hunt not so much.
But, through it all, he has strength that simply wears teams down, especially later in games with a huge 7.0 YPC avg in 4th quarters. Fournette is a game closer for Jacksonville. He is a serious difference maker on the field, changing defensive scheme for opposing teams. He is always seemingly looking for contact, which is admirable and impressive but can be a slight concern, if I am a Jags fan. As an ultra-violent finisher who can blast your safety with punishing hits – and the aggressiveness to plow through all contact he makes a fun watch. Similar to Adrian Peterson and an Earl Campbell type RB.
Leonard Fournette is extremely talented and more than capable of carrying his Jags to victory. But his pass catching needs some help, and he throws sloppy blocks, when blocking for his QB – which need serious help. QB Blake Bortles needs far better pass protection from him, and his wheel routes definitely need substantial work.
From what I have seen, so far from both of their fledgling beginnings of their NFL careers – Kareem Hunt is the guy I am going with. I prefer a back who can catch the ball like this kid can do. With 28 receptions and 307 receiving YDs this season – he has shown he can get his QB big catches out of the backfield, which is similar to Marshall Faulk. And that isn’t hogwash – that is a very legit comparison. Hunt has the exceptional ability to catch the ball, as we have discussed – and can also run the ball like a champion, making guys miss on the field. With Hunt forcing so many missed tackles – which I prefer my back to do, it is going to not only help his team succeed – but likely prolong his NFL career.
Kareem Hunt is a complete back. In the same mold as RBs of a Jamaal Charles or a Marshall Faulk. Hunt is going to be a star running back as good as his predecessor ever was. And that isn’t saying anything but great accolades for 22 year old RB from Toledo. Charles was faster – but he is astonishing with his ability to break tackles and he keeps his feet moving, nonstop. This kid can flat out play.
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