Former LSU phenom Leonard Fournette is generally regarded as the top running back available in the 2017 NFL Draft, but according to FOX NFL Draft analyst Joel Klatt, he isn't the most valuable back in the class.
On Wednesday's episode of "Speak For Yourself", Klatt and Jason Whitlock made their choices for the best running back available, and Klatt explained why Stanford's Christian McCaffrey should be the top choice.
Leonard Fournette is the prototype
“I’m not going to reject 70 years of football history. One guy is 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, and runs a 4.5 40. And the other guy is a little undersized. Fast and shifty.
"But one guy fits all the statistical profiles, the other guy doesn’t. I’ve got to go with Fournette.”
Brett RojoBrett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Teams aren't looking for the prototypical back anymore
“You just outlined exactly the position that I think is archaic. Which is ‘we have 70 years of history that this is the way that always has been,’ and ‘well you can’t tell me that someone other than who I’m used to seeing can be successful at this position.’
"Do you remember a guy named Billy Beane? Do you remember when his philosophy of Moneyball became prominent? People in the big leagues thought ‘that can’t be successful, we have 70 years of statistics and eye tests that tell us that this is what a successful big leaguer is.’
"And guess what? Moneyball theory stopped the greatest two streaks in the history of baseball, which is the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs’ World Series droughts.”
Casey SapioCasey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
McCaffrey's versatility makes him more valuable
"There is just an alternate way to view running backs. The traditional way, which you laid out, is the 6-foot-1, 240, can carry it 20 times.
"And there’s this alternate way, which is borne out of economic frugality. Because when you pay your quarterback $20 million a year, guess what you’ve got to find? Alternate ways to get value and production out of your skill positions.
"For that reason, Christian McCaffrey holds more value to an NFL organization with the way the NFL plays football in the modern day than does Leonard Fournette."
Kelley L CoxKelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Traditional rushers aren't winning Super Bowls anymore
"The last time that a rushing leader ended up going on to win the Super Bowl? It was 1998, Terrell Davis and the Denver Broncos were raising John Elway’s second Super Bowl Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"That hasn’t happened since then. So you tell me when this prototypical running back is going to take a team to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, I just saw James White, with a great quarterback, go torch the Falcons in the fourth quarter and raise that Vince Lombardi Trophy. That’s why Christian McCaffrey has more value than Leonard Fournette."