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'Playmaker' Leonard Fournette fills two big needs for Jaguars

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Jaguars get a dominant runner in Leonard Fournette (1:00)

With the fourth pick in the 2017 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars selected LSU running back Leonard Fournette who Field Yates calls one of the best athletes in this year's draft. (1:00)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Leonard Fournette is a big, physical running back. You can spend a lot of time on YouTube watching him prove that over and over again by running over defensive backs.

But Fournette likes to remind people that he’s more than a pounder.

"A lot of people think I’m a big, bruising guy who can’t make anybody miss if I don’t run them over or hit them or anything," the LSU product said shortly after being selected fourth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night. "I mean, I have a lot to show this season coming up and I will."

Fournette ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the combine, which is pretty impressive considering he weighed 240 pounds at the time. He also made sure to mention that he ran the 200 meters in 21.4 seconds and the 100 meters in 10.5 seconds in high school.

"A lot of people think for my size I’m very slow," Fournette said. "When they get on the field and it hits you, it kind of surprised them."

But the Jaguars didn’t draft Fournette for his elusiveness. They took him because he can run between the tackles and carry the ball 20-25 times a game. They took him to help secure games in the fourth quarter and, most importantly, to score touchdowns.

The Jaguars have rushed for only 13 touchdowns in the past two seasons, five of which have been by quarterback Blake Bortles. Fournette ran for 40 touchdowns in his three seasons at LSU.

"We do have a playmaker," Jaguars executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin said. "You can’t have enough but that was the intent. The intent was look, we need to get the ball in the end zone. We don’t get the ball in the end zone enough. We need players to put the ball in the end zone.

"This guy can help us in regard to that."

Another area in which the Jaguars struggled over the past few seasons: closing out games. The 2016 finale was the worst example. The Jaguars took over at the Indianapolis 30-yard line after blocking a punt with 1:54 remaining but they blew the chance to seal a victory.

The Jaguars gained seven yards on three Corey Grant runs, the Colts called timeout after each play, and Jason Myers kicked a 41-yard field goal to put the Jaguars ahead 20-17 with 1:33 to play.

Eight plays and 75 yards later, Andrew Luck threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Jack Doyle and the Colts won 24-20. That was the 10th time the Jaguars had a game decided by seven points or less in 2016; they were 2-8 in those games.

"Win the line of scrimmage and win those battles, and you’ll be much better off, and then if you have a back that can help -- a good back with good vision can help the offensive line and hopefully be able to control the ball, close out games," coach Doug Marrone said. "How many games did we lose in the last two minutes last year or in the fourth quarter when we had a lead? When you have a big back that can run out the clock you are going to win some of those close games."

There were pre-draft doubts about Fournette’s pass-blocking and receiving abilities, but Coughlin said he was satisfied in those areas. Even if there were some concerns, Coughlin said Fournette’s game-breaking ability as a ball carrier over-rides them.

"He's special," Coughlin said. "We need playmakers. We need people to put the ball in the end zone. We need to do something about balance. We need to do something about creating a better situation where the quarterback doesn't have the entire game on his shoulders."