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Ron Rivera hints Panthers could take Leonard Fournette in first round

Leonard Fournette
Jesse Reed
Written by Jesse Reed

The Carolina Panthers are apparently eyeing former LSU running back Leonard Fournette very closely. Head coach Ron Rivera stopped short of confirming the rumor that Carolina is “sold” on Fournette but did make it clear he’s on the radar as a potential first-round pick.

One of the most talked about prospects from this year’s draft class, Fournette has the makings of a potential NFL star.

During his three-year tenure at LSU, he averaged 6.2 yards per carry and rushed for 40 touchdowns. His 2015 season was by far his best for the Tigers. He rushed for 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns that year and was a Heisman favorite for much of the season before crashing down to earth near the end of the campaign.

However, he also struggled against Alabama, gaining just 145 yards on 57 carries in three games against the Crimson Tide for a paltry average of 2.54 yards per carry. Fournette also battled through what’s been described as a chronic ankle issue during his college career and missed half of the 2016 season because of it. For these reasons, we’ve highlighted him as one of the most overhyped players in the upcoming draft (more on that here).

That Fournette will become a dominant pro is certainly not a given. That said, if he does, then adding him to the lineup in Carolina would be a tremendous complement to Cam Newton and the rest of the offense.

We’ll be tracking his pro career with great interest. One of the most physically dominant backs we’ve seen in college for some time, he has potential to become a force at the next level if he can stay healthy.

About the author

Jesse Reed

Jesse Reed

Managing Editor here at Sportsnaut. Featured on Yardbarker, Foxsports.com and MSN.com, and formerly was a breaking news writer/NFL analyst for Bleacher Report.