Jaguars draft Leonard Fournette to 'put the ball in the end zone'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tom Coughlin wanted more playmakers in Jacksonville. So no surprise to see him grab one of the best in college football over the last three years.

The Jaguars selected LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, giving Coughlin the bruising back he craves in his return to the floundering franchise.

Fournette is expected to provide an immediate boost to one of the league's worst offenses and take some pressure off struggling quarterback Blake Bortles.

"He's special," said Coughlin, the team's executive vice president of football operations. "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. Certainly we have to improve the offensive line. Certainly we have a lot more work to do."

Fournette is a solid start. He ran for 3,840 yards and 40 touchdowns in three seasons in Baton Rouge, despite missing five games with an ankle injury in 2016. He averaged 6.2 yards a carry in his college career, providing must-see highlights on a weekly basis.

The Jaguars have rushed for 13 touchdowns the last two seasons -- the second-fewest in the NFL in that span -- and five of those were by Bortles. So running the ball better was a priority for Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and new head coach Doug Marrone.

Jacksonville addressed most of its defensive needs by adding veteran defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church in free agency, freeing up the front office to go heavy on the offensive side of the ball in the three-day draft.

The Jaguars picked in the top 10 for the 10th consecutive year, and in the top five for an NFL-record sixth straight year.