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Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

Grading the 2019 NFL season for Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette

The Jacksonville Jaguars experienced another disappointing season in 2019, going 5-11 for the second straight year.

But unlike 2018, which was a cataclysmic disaster, there were actually some bright spots for the Jaguars this season.

Whether it was the surprising play of Gardner Minshew or the development of a potentially dynamic receiving corps, Jacksonville can take some positives away from 2019.

One of those positive was the performance of running back Leonard Fournette.

Fournette had a miserable 2018 campaign, to say the least. Injuries and suspensions limited him to eight games, and during that time, he rushed for just 439 yards and five touchdowns while averaging a meager 3.3 yards per carry.

As a matter of fact, Fournette was so bad that some were questioning whether or not the Jags would even bring him back for another season.

But it’s a good thing the Jaguars did, because Fournette was really good this year, finishing with 1,152 yards and three scores on the ground while logging 4.3 yards per attempt. In addition, Fournette flashed his ability as a receiver out of the backfield, hauling in 76 receptions for 522 yards.

For starters, this was Fournette’s best season to date. Yes, he was impressive during his rookie year, totaling 1,040 yards and nine touchdowns as Jacksonville made it to the AFC Championship Game, but he recorded just 3.9 yards per tote, and he caught just 36 passes.

This season, the 24-year-old was much more efficient, and he more than doubled up his catches. Not only that, but Fournette actually remained largely healthy for the first time in his career, playing in 15 games.

Fournette also had this solid year in spite of the Jaguars owning a less-than-stellar offensive line, so his play in 2019 becomes that much more impressive when you take into consideration the fairly shoddy blocking in front of him.

Yes, Jacksonville actually had an aerial attack this season, as Minshew was a heck of a lot better than Blake Bortles was in 2018, and the receiving trio of DJ Chark, Dede Westbrook and Chris Conley is nothing to sneeze at.

That surely helped Fournette have a stronger campaign, but we also need to give some credit where credit is due.

Clearly, Fournette worked really hard on his craft last offseason, as he went from being a guy who could potentially get cut to someone who is now a foundational piece in the Jags’ offense moving forward.

He was the Jaguars’ fourth overall pick in 2017 for a reason, as he had a terrific collegiate career at LSU, but it took him a little while to consistently display his talent on the professional level.

Now, it looks like Fournette has finally broken out, and on a Jacksonville offense that appears to be getting stronger, we should be expecting rather big things from the New Orleans native as time progresses.

As for Fournette’s performance in 2019? I think he deserves an A-minus.

His efficiency wasn’t elite, but it was a heck of a lot better than his first couple of seasons, and the fact that he became a legitimate threat as a pass-catcher out of the backfield is huge.