It’s post-draft season across the football landscape, which means it’s time for RECKLESS SPECU-LATION.
The start of rookie minicamps has a lot of fans and coaches feeling optimistic about their teams’ draft hauls and pondering the effect they could have on the slowly approaching 2017 season. When will Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson take their first professional snaps under center? Will Evan Engram render Big Blue’s offense, already anchored by Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall, unstoppable? Can Jamal Adams single-handedly save the Jets‘ porous secondary?
“Leonard’s a guy that we’ve penciled in — in terms of a guy that can come in and make an immediate impact,” Caldwell told Sirius XM NFL Radio. “We are kind of in a win-now mode, as we should be, and Leonard is a guy that can come in and hopefully make the biggest difference here.”
On the surface, this is blanket optimism from a desperate GM. But that Caldwell says drafting Fournette indicates the team is in “win-now mode” suggests he believes that the LSU standout is the key to breaking Jacksonville’s postseason drought in the near future.
Ezekiel Elliott‘s transcendent rookie campaign in 2016, one in which the Cowboys turned nine losses into nine wins and secured the top seed in the NFC, changed the way scouts and GMs looked at and valued the running back position in the draft. Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara were all projected as first-round picks at one point in the draft process after Elliott was the sole back to go in the first round in ’16.
But how much impact do first-round rookie tailbacks actually have on their teams’ records? Was Elliott’s season the mean or the outlier?
Our friends at NFL Research did some digging and…