2017 NFL mock draft: Measuring the potential impact of Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey

Photo credit: Don Juan Moore / Getty Images Sport

Author: Jon Kuzma

There are plenty of teams in the National Football League that could use a quality running back to help balance their offense. The running back position is such a central piece to any NFL offense because those players take on a huge offensive load. In order for a team to run effectively they need a strong rushing attack which is a combination of good blocking and strong running back play. While the blocking part of the game takes a major coordinated effort, sometimes landing a dynamic player at the running back spot can make life so much easier for an offense. That’s why several teams are looking to land a star running back in this draft like the Cowboys did last season with Ezekiel Elliott. This spring those star players are hands down Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Christian McCaffrey.

Leonard Fournette made some headlines at the combine for weighing in at 240 pounds. Fournette stated that the weight was “water weight” but you have to wonder if Fournette is taking the process seriously? The goal was to weigh in at 235, and Leonard Fournette missed that mark. Lets be honest we all know this guy can play when he is in top tier condition but the last year Fournette has had some struggles. Due to injuries Fournette only recorded 843 rushing yards last season and it was his only year at L.S.U that he didn’t crack the 1,000 yards rushing mark. Truthfully you would have liked to see Fournette come to the combine a little bit leaner but he will have a chance to put the questions to rest with a great 40 yard dash performance. The goal for Leonard Fournette should be to get under the 4.43 mark. If he does that most teams will look past his weight ( although they still will even if he doesn’t hit that mark).

Davlin Cook’s story is a little bit different from Fournette’s. Cook never had an injury plagued season like Fournette did and he managed to put up 3 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons at Florida State. With a combined career total of 4,464 rushing yards and 46 division 1 touchdowns Dalvin Cook is the epitome of a dynamic running back. Cook finished his college career with 145 yard thrashing of the Michigan defense in the Orange Bowl. That was a glimpse of what is to come for Dalvin Cook and every team would like to have this player on their roster. Cook was measured at 5’10 210 pounds at the NFL combine and he put up an impressive 22 bench press reps. It’s that consistency from Dalvin Cook that has you thinking he could be the best out all 3 of these players. Fournette should be hungry because people were frustrated with his performance last season. Dalvin Cook on the other hand has to maintain that cool, calm, and collected style of play he approaches the game with and make sure he takes care of himself health wise. Other than that it’s easy to believe Cook is the best running back on the whole board.

The last back who could end up being a star in the National Football League is the son of former NFL star Ed McCaffrey. That’s right Stanford’s very own Christan McCaffrey is heading to the NFL and he feels that people are overlooking his athletic abilities. McCaffrey told the press “I feel like people are underestimating me” and McCaffrey will do everything he can to get NFL teams to buy into his style of play. McCaffrey was measured at 5’11 210 pounds at the combine and recorded 10 bench press reps. To be honest 10 bench press reps is a little bit weak, especially considering Dalvin Cook put up 22 bench reps but that doesn’t mean McCaffrey can’t help a team out. It might not be until the 2nd round but Jacksonville at 35 or Carolina at 40 could be 2 teams that are interested in McCaffrey’s services.

Overall this running back draft class looks decent but really Fournette and Cook are the 2 players to nab. There is more risk with Fournette who didn’t participate in the bench press event at the combine, but if he plays up to his abilities he could be a game changer. Cook is more consistent but you never know how long that will last? Regardless though if you walk away from the draft with Fournette or Cook on your roster you did your job as a General Manager and you added a terrific football player to your team.

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