Hes got a billion-dollar set of knees. What are you doing playing in a nothing bowl game? View photos Fournette enters the NFL at a dark time for backs. Franchise-tag values-essentially the average salary of the top five players at a position-provide a barometer for how NFL general managers gauge a positions value, and in 2017 running back ranks as the eighth highest paid of 11 positions. (Average salary: $12.1 million.) That puts Fournette & Co. ahead of only tight ends, safeties and kickers/punters. Part of that can be explained by the NFLs infatuation with-and dedication of financial resources to-the passing game, and part to the costly investments in some recent first-round flameouts. But the Cowboys took Elliott with the No. 4 pick in ’16, and his dynamic rookie season-1,631 rushing yards, 16 total TDs-has made people go back and take a look at the value of the running back, says one NFL coach. In 2017 a bumper crop of projected first-rounders-Fournette, these details McCaffrey and Florida States Dalvin Cook-sits poised to take advantage of that renewed interest. But consider the likelihood that any of those three will have as good an offensive line as Elliotts (he ran behind three first-team All-Pros), with an elite field-stretching receiver (see: Bryant, Dez) and a dangerous quarterback (Prescott, Dak).
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