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2017 NFL Draft: "Perfect fit" at No. 4


JACKSONVILLE – Daniel Jeremiah likes Leonard Fournette to the Jaguars.

The reason: he likes the Jaguars' defense. A lot.

Jeremiah, a prominent draft analyst for the NFL Network, on Wednesday said he believes Fournette – a running back from Louisiana State – makes sense at No. 4 overall in the April 27-29 2017 NFL Draft partly because of his ability to help the quarterback position.

"We've all talked about Jacksonville being a good fit there [Fournette] for a number of reasons," Jeremiah said during a conference call with fellow NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks Wednesday. "You look at his ability to take some pressure of quarterback Blake Bortles, which he would do."

But Jeremiah was particularly effusive when discussing Fournette's ability to complement a defense that ranked sixth in the NFL last season.

"That defense in Jacksonville – if you watch them play and look at the numbers they put up defensively, that's one of the best young defenses in the NFL," Jeremiah said. "If you can get a running back that can control the clock a little bit, shorten the game, keep that defense fresh … I think the Jags could find themselves in a lot of close football games and see if they can't get over the hump and start winning some of them.

"I think he's the perfect fit there in Jacksonville."

Fournette has been projected to the Jaguars at No. 4 by many prominent analysts in recent weeks, but Jeremiah said Fournette may not be available at the selection.

"I wouldn't totally rule out San Francisco," Jeremiah said, adding of the 49ers, who hold the No. 2 overall selection, "There has been a lot of chatter about them maybe trying to get out of there with that second pick [by trading the selection]. I know they have a talented running back there already, but I don't know that durability-wise that Carlos Hyde would keep me from taking Fournette if I thought he had a chance to be one of the best two or three backs in the league.

"This [Fournette] is a pretty special player. I wouldn't rule out him maybe being off the board when Jacksonville picked."

Also on Wednesday:

*Brooks reiterated a point many analysts have made regarding the '17 draft – that the cornerback position is as deep and talented as it has been in recent memory. "A lot of it comes down to style and scheme fit," Brooks said. "I don't know if there's necessarily a transcendent star at the position, but I do believe there are a lot of plug-and-play players, guys who would traditionally be viewed as No. 2 corners on most teams." Brooks said he ranks Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore as the best corner in this year's draft. "He's probably the most-athletic, the most-polished in terms of being the natural shutdown corner that you look for," Brooks said. "Teams that are looking for corners in this draft should be pleased because there are a lot of options available to them.'"…

*Jeremiah on safeties Jamal Adams of LSU and Malik Hooker of Ohio State generally being rated higher than the top safeties in many years' drafts: "Traditionally those guys don't go very high, so if you're going to take one up there he needs to be special. This year is just unique in that Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams are just special, special talents who can do a lot of different things.'' …

*Jeremiah said he doesn't believe a quarterback in this year's draft class is worthy of a Top 10 selection. "Taking a guy who's a borderline late-one/early-two and vaulting him all the way up into the Top 10 in this year's draft … I don't think it's smart business," Jeremiah said. Both Jeremiah and Brooks said the '17 draft class is strong at cornerback, safety, running back and right end and comparatively weak at offensive line. …

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