Outside of Texas A&M defensive lineman Myles Garrett, Leonard Fournette is arguably the best player available in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Fournette was a consensus top-tier pick coming into the season before Garrett wrestled it away with his performance as a pass rusher last year.
And while the Bears aren’t necessarily in the market for a running back, Peter King’s MMQB column could see a draft day surprise in the Bears future.
King says not to be shocked if the Bears choose Fournette with the third overall pick, in essence stealing the player from Jacksonville, the team viewed as the most likely landing spot for the LSU running back. But how? Why? Jordan Howard still exists, right?
For starters, if the Bears are truly committed to their best player available philosophy, Fournette might actually be that guy. And if that very surprising draft day pick actually went down, in theory, it could reveal something unexpected about how the Bears feel about running back Jordan Howard.
Remember, Howard was a fifth-round pick who was buried behind Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey to start the season. It took an injury to Langford for Howard to get on the field, and to his credit, he made the most of the playing time offered. But perhaps the Bears still aren’t sold on Howard, who rushed only 252 times in 2016 – the fourth fewest among the 12 running backs who gained 1,000 yards last season (his 16.8 rushes per game also ranked last in the bunch).
If the Bears’ offense was led by some putrid quarterback play, as we know it was, why limit the workload of a 1,000-yard back who was doing so much damage with the carries he was getting?
We’re definitely not saying that the Bears *do* have questions about Howard going forward. We’re saying only that, if this rumor were true, this is one plausible explanation.
The much more likely explanation here, however, is that this rumor is a smoke screen to throw other teams off from the Bears’ true intentions. Or it may even be an attempt to increase the value of the third pick to a team that values Fournette more than the Bears.
There are many possibilities. These are just a few of them. Unfortunately, the smoke won’t clear until tomorrow, and until then, rumors will continue to fly.