For a few years now, NFL teams have not taken the role of the running back seriously when it comes to the NFL Draft. With the idea that there are a lot of solid running backs, most teams have not cared about spending early first round picks on the position and it has really hurt the reputation of young up-and-coming backs. However, in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys spent a very early draft pick on Ezekiel Elliott from the Ohio State Buckeyes and he ended up as the NFL rushing leader and helped the Cowboys finish with the best record in the NFC.

Barry Church on Leonard Fournette

Much like 2016, there was a running back taken early in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars took Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the draft – the exact same spot that the Dallas Cowboys grabbed Ezekiel Elliott last year. Elliott ran for 1,821 yards with 23 touchdowns in his final year of college. In his first season in the NFL, Elliott finished with 1,631 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. He was a huge success.

Barry Church was the starting strong safety for the Dallas Cowboys in 2016 and now he is playing the same role with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2017. Church was there to watch Zeke become a star in the NFL quickly. When asked about his new rookie running back teammate, Church was excited about the possibilities.

According to Church, he sees Leonard Fournette as the “real deal” and that he sees a similarity to Ezekiel.

Fournette in 2017

The biggest obstacle for Leonard Fournette is winning the starting running back job in training camp. Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has already said that Leonard will have to win the job and was not getting it handed to him.

However, the Dallas Cowboys said the same thing about Ezekiel Elliott last year. For Zeke, it was an injury to starter Darren McFadden that allowed him to capture and never let go of his job.

Leonard Fournette will be competing with T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory for the starting job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Yeldon was another top Jaguars draft pick, yet one that never panned out.

Ivory was a star with the New York Jets who can still run but has lost a step over the years. If Barry Church is right, neither player could stand in the way of Fournette. Church said Leonard is running hard and has great vision, making all the cuts with pop and power.

The big question is if Leonard Fournette can do as well as Ezekiel Elliott since Zeke had the top ranked Dallas Cowboys offensive line and Fournette is running for the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.