Leonard Fournette to round out RB depth on the Dallas Cowboys?

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

No, recently released RB Leonard Fournette would not be a useful addition to the Dallas Cowboys RB room

The Dallas Cowboys quite obviously don’t need a starting running back. Ezekiel Elliott is widely considered one of the best running backs in the game and after four seasons as a pro, he’s proven to be durable to boot.

So at face value it doesn’t make much sense that the Dallas Cowboys would be interested in a former bell cow, no matter how cheap he may come. But given the depth issues the Dallas Cowboys have beyond their top-2 RBs, some fans have been asking if Leonard Fournette makes sense from a depth perspective.

At 6-foot-0 228lbs. Fournette is one of the biggest backs in the NFL. That’s why some fans have been wondering if he’s a viable option as a short yardage back or even lead blocker. Again, at face value this is understandable. Converting short-yardage situations is arguably the most important skill a RB can have.

And after fullback Jamize Olawale opted out this season, there is an opening for FB1 on this 2020 Dallas Cowboys roster (a role that may go unfilled by a traditional FB). But it doesn’t take a very deep dive to see Fournette isn’t the answer to any of Dallas concerns. Here’s why…

Leonard Fournette is not the answer for the Dallas Cowboys

First, let’s look at the Dallas Cowboys perceived depth issue. This was a roadblock I ran into when I released the Dallas Cowboys mid-camp final roster projection. I only had Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard making the team and used versatile tight ends to handle most of the fullback duties. You can imagine there were some strong fan reactions regarding only keeping two RBs instead of the traditional four.

What we need to keep in mind is Zeke is built like a truck and has never missed a game due to injury. We also need to remember Tony Pollard is expected to take a chunk of the workload this season. He’s not stealing plays from the passing game, he’s lightening the load for Zeke. Dallas doesn’t need a No. 3 option.

Next is Zeke’s effectiveness in short-yardage. Over his career we’ve seen Zeke’s big play potential fall off a cliff but his short-yardage numbers remain some of the best in the league. Keep in mind, he’s been able to achieve this without even an ounce of deception under the Garrett regime. Zeke’s biggest value is converting short yardage. There’s no way I’m taking him off the field for that.

The next thing to consider is Fournette’s inability to gain yards after contact. Many would assume a guy his size would be a Derrick Henry type bulldozer after contact. “Many” would be wrong to assume that.

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Founette’s 2.7 yards after contact (Per Pro Football Focus) is one of the absolute worst in the NFL. It’s startling how ineffective he is after contact so it makes zero sense to replace someone like Zeke with him in high-contact situations.  This carries over into the lead-blocking portion of the argument. Yes, Fournette can level a guy in head-on situations, so the potential is certainly there to clear the way through the hole for Zeke and Pollard. But his yards after contact indicate he’s going to drop like a wet load of sand when he lays that first block.

Leonard Fournette doesn’t break tackles or elude tacklers. He can lay the wood but that doesn’t mean much if he can’t stay on his feet afterwards. His abilities don’t compliment Pollard or Zeke, and if anything, he would steal from them.

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The Dallas Cowboys have no use for Leonard Fournette. While Lenny needs a team that opens holes, Dallas isn’t the team. It’s fun to entertain the idea of various highly touted free agents but this one doesn’t make sense on any level.

  • Published on 09/01/2020 at 11:30 AM
  • Last updated at 09/01/2020 at 09:45 AM