Was Bucs RB Fournette Snubbed In PFF Tier Rankings?

Bucs working again Leonard Fournette had one of many higher all-around seasons of his profession in 2021. After changing into a playoff hero and incomes his “Lombardi Lenny” nickname, he blossomed into a real three-down again for Tampa Bay over the course of final season.

He out-snapped Ronald Jones II by a large margin and took over the reins of the backfield. In reality, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich just lately talked about how onerous it’s to take him off the sector.

“Why it’s powerful to get Lenny off the sector [is] he’s a three-down again. He’s a sensible man. He and Tom [Brady] can play ball. They will play ball collectively,” Leftwich stated. “That’s why it’s onerous to essentially get him off the sector, due to what he brings and the connection that him and Tom [have]. I feel it’s distinctive.”

Fournette’s chops as a receiving working again actually had been the important thing in 2021. He ran for 812 yards on 180 carries (4.5 avg.) and located the tip zone eight occasions on the bottom. However as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, he was a key cog in Tampa Bay’s offense. In 14 video games, he totaled 69 catches for 454 yards and two scores, marking the second-best receiving season of his profession. His 1,266 complete yards and 10 complete touchdowns paint the image of him proving that he’s a whole again.

So, given the season that he simply put collectively and the truth that he’s contemporary off of signing a three-year, $21 million deal to stay with the Bucs, Fournette might be getting plenty of love nationally, proper? Nicely, not so quick – at the least within the case of Professional Soccer Focus’ 2022 working again rankings and tiers.

No Love For Fournette In PFF Rankings

Ben Linsey of PFF launched the location’s working again rankings and tiers earlier in Could, and Fournette’s identify is notably absent. Now, nobody would’ve anticipated to see him within the “Elite” tier with the likes of Jonathan Taylor or Nick Chubb. He wouldn’t essentially match within the “Elite When At Full Energy However Slowed By Accidents” class both. Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook dinner and Alvin Kamara fill out these spots. However from there, you’d count on Fournette to be within the combine.

Bucs SS Jordan Whitehead and Packers RB Aaron Jones – Picture by: USA At present

PFF’s third tier is comprised of “Good Starters.” The No. 7 total spot goes to Aaron Jones, then Austin Ekeler and Joe Mixon fill out the No. 8 and No. 9 slots, respectively. However then that’s it. Fournette, the person of greater than 1,200 complete yards from scrimmage and double-digit touchdowns final yr, doesn’t rank within the “Good Starters” classification.

The rankings checklist then goes on to rank tier 4 working backs, that are “Elusive Backs On Rookie Offers.” Clearly, Fournette isn’t on his rookie deal, so he’s understandably not included there both. Meaning Josh Jacobs, Najee Harris and Javonte Williams occupy the No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12 spots on the checklist.

Tier 5 is made up of gamers who’re needing to bounce again from damage, which doesn’t describe Fournette. That leaves Saquon Barkley, Chris Carson and Ezekiel Elliott to take the following three slots on the checklist.

Even for those who agree that Fournette shouldn’t be in tier three as a “Good Starter,” you would possibly count on him to pop up in tier six, which consists of “Strong Starters.” Nicely, assume once more. James Conner, Damien Harris, Miles Sanders, David Montgomery and Devin Singletary spherical out the checklist of Linsey’s High 20 working backs heading into 2022. Non-starters reminiscent of Tony Pollard, Kareem Hunt and A.J. Dillon then bought honorable mentions.

So, Why Was Fournette Snubbed?

Given the run of type Fournette is on – relationship again to the Bucs’ run to the Tremendous Bowl and persevering with all through 2021 – it’s onerous to know why he isn’t on PFF’s high 20 checklist. He proved to be greater than only a “strong starter” final yr and was close to the higher echelon of backs by way of manufacturing. With PFF rankings, the location’s grading system needs to be thought-about. Might Fournette’s grades from 2021 be the explanation for his snub? It’s not going.

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Picture by: Cliff Welch/PR

Fournette’s total grade of 75.1 ranked him No. 21 amongst all working backs in 2021. However the caveat there’s that gamers with far decrease snap counts – reminiscent of Pollard, D’Ernest Johnson, Rhamondre Stevenson, Rashaad Penny and Khalil Herbert – rank forward of him. All of them meet PFF’s snap rely minimal, but it surely nonetheless skews all the pieces only a bit. Fournette’s speeding grade of 80.0 ranked him No. 15. His 64.8 receiving grade and 56.3 cross block grade would possibly’ve factored in, however out of all the backs that Linsey talked about in his checklist, he solely talked about blocking one time, and that was for James Conner.

That receiving grade, which feels low, remains to be greater than loads of the gamers ranked forward of him on PFF’s tier checklist. He posted a greater mark than Chubb, Mixon, Jacobs, Ekeler, Taylor, Najee Harris, Elliott, Cook dinner and Singletary. And his total grade, although No. 21 amongst all working backs, nonetheless positioned him above Sanders, Montgomery, Najee Harris, Elliott, Singletary and Cook dinner.

So, on the entire, it’s onerous to see PFF’s grades being the explanation for his snub. And if it wasn’t the grading system, what was it? It definitely wasn’t an absence of manufacturing or well being.

It’s simply curious, to say the least.