Our analysts are constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. Each day this week, we'll share some of what NFL and college folks are discussing in their circles when it comes to five of the game's top prospects. We'll continue today with LSU running back Leonard Fournette.
The scoop: We asked an AFC executive about Fournette and if any player comparisons came to mind. His response: Jim Brown.
The skinny: When it comes to comparisons, there's no greater compliment to give a running back than this one. This veteran executive didn't hesitate to mention Brown, who might be the greatest NFL player of all-time. That's lofty stuff.
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The scoop: "Fournette reminds me of Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson." -- veteran NFC executive
The skinny: That is some very good company for Fournette to be in. The comps to those incredible athletes make sense because it's hard to find Fournette's combination of size, speed and power. Our Daniel Jeremiah had a veteran personnel man compare Fournette to LeBron James after LSU's bowl win last season. When evaluators think of comps for Fournette, they name some of the most freakish athletes they can recall.
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NFL Media analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at college football's top players for 2016.
- Michigan TE Jake Butt
- Miami QB Brad Kaaya
- Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine
- Alabama OT Cam Robinson
- LSU S Jamal Adams
- Michigan DB Jabrill Peppers
- Ohio State LB Raekwon McMillan
- USC CB Adoree' Jackson
- Missouri DE Charles Harris
- Alabama TE O.J. Howard
- Florida CB Jalen Tabor
- Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly
- Alabama OLB Tim Williams
- FSU RB Dalvin Cook
- USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Alabama DL Jonathan Allen
- Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
- Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett
- LSU RB Leonard Fournette
- Clemson QB Deshaun Watson
The scoop: "I thought Todd Gurley was the best RB prospect I had played against or seen since Adrian Peterson. I rate Leonard Fournette higher. I think he has the full arsenal -- size, speed, power, vision, toughness and character." -- SEC defensive coordinator
The skinny: Fournette has been hearing comparisons to Adrian Peterson since he was a freshman who had yet to take a snap at the college level, and they're not going away. To be placed in the same conversation with Peterson and Jim Brown -- that's a holy grail for a rusher, and Gurley, the former Georgia Bulldogs star, is off to a fine start in his NFL career, having taken home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors last season. Fournette has been compared to Gurley before, as well.
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The scoop: "He got so much better as a runner from his freshman to sophomore season. He will get nitpicked about not making enough people miss, but he's not a finesse runner. Let him play to his talent." -- NFC area scout
The skinny: Fournette's power and speed are unquestioned, but this scout is referencing a perceived lack of wiggle in Fournette's running style. Fournette's dominance last season didn't seem to be lacking in much of anything. NFL runners have to be able to create for themselves with elusiveness and/or power and Fournette has that power mixed with breakaway speed. The last thing LSU wants is to see Fournette juking defenders rather than playing downhill.
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The scoop: "He's as can't-miss as you can find out of college. There's nothing he won't excel at. Trait to trait, it's all rare to exceptional." -- NFC West scout
The skinny: Fournette has shown breakaway speed, brutish power, durability and leadership. With LSU having lost some key talent on the offensive line, he might have to break more tackles in the backfield this year than he has in the past. He's still capable of challenging the 2,000-yard mark.
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The scoop: "He's the real deal. He's a classic throwback runner." -- NFC scout
The skinny: Fournette is the perfect back to play in a smashmouth offense built around a big offensive line and power-based running scheme. He hits the hole with reckless abandon and exhibits the core traits (speed, power, vision and balance) to be a perennial 1,000-yard runner at the next level.
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