LSUDraftFournetteAdams.
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — The paths for Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams followed similar trajectories. 

They were both No. 1 at their position after impressive high school careers. They both committed to LSU in nationally televised ceremonies at the Under Armour All-American Game in 2014.

They evolved into starters halfway through their freshman year at LSU. They were NFL-ready as sophomores, and they left early for the pros as juniors.

Now, they're first-rounders. Top 10 picks, actually. 

Fournette and Adams were selected in the top 10 — and so was cornerback Tre'Davious White — during the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, each walking up the famed Rocky steps to pose with commissioner Roger Goodell.

Fournette, the fourth overall selection, is heading to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Adams, the sixth pick, landed with the New York Jets — two physical, hard-hitting players who used to collide on the Charles McClendon Practice Fields. White went as the 27th pick to the Buffalo Bills.

"It's very exciting for me and Jamal Adams. (We) came in as freshmen at LSU," Fournette said. "He made me better as a player."

Adams added: "We had our battles, back and forth. Leonard is going to do tremendous things in Jacksonville. It was made for him to go there and be a part of that program."

The crowd on hand at this spectacular site roared its approval after Goodell announced each pick, filling this outdoor theater with cheers in the first draft held in Philadelphia since 1961. This spectacle unfolded on the history-laden Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

Players walked up the iconic steps Sylvester Stallone made famous with the 1976 classic "Rocky," the Philadelphia Museum of Art overlooking the proceedings on a cool 60-degree night. Goodell took the stage to begin the event at 7:05 p.m. CDT to a stream of boos, mostly from Eagles fans — "boo birds," they call them.

 

"Come on, Philly, come on!" Goodell said playfully gesturing to a crowd of more than 70,000 encircling the theater. 

The Browns picked Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett to start this party. 

Three picks later, the Jaguars chose the 6-foot, 230-pound Fournette. Just 16 minutes after that, Adams rose from his seat in the green room to head to the stage, giving the Tigers two picks inside the top six for just the second time in school history.

That came in 2007, with JaMarcus Russell at No. 1 and LaRon Landry at No. 6.

Adams and Fournette's combined signing bonuses are expected to top $32 million, and White is set to sign for about $5 million. The three first-rounders are the second-most in LSU history, joining the three first-rounders in 1951. 

Fournette fulfills so many lofty expectations for a kid ranked as the best recruit in the nation in 2014. The New Orleans native only added to his hype in Baton Rouge. Fournette, known for his unique blend of speed and power, broke LSU's single-season freshman rushing record that year and then barreled through the school's single-season rushing record in 2015. 

He shook off a drama-filled predraft process — he weighed in at a heavier-than-expected 240 pounds at the combine — to even surprise himself. Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone and general manager David Caldwell phoned Fournette just before the pick went public.

"My heart skipped a little bit," Fournette said. "I didn't know I was going to go so early. One of the best phone calls I got in my life."

An ankle injury during preseason camp in August forced Fournette to miss much of his junior season, an ordeal some said could hurt his value. Then his combine weight sent media and NFL personnel buzzing before he quieted some of the noise at LSU pro day. He weighed in at 228.

Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars executive vice president, hopes to have Fournette play at 228-230 pounds, he told reporters in Jacksonville. They hope, too, that Fournette can revive a downtrodden running game.

The Jaguars are last in rushing yards since the start of 2012 and had only eight rushing touchdowns last year.

"We need playmakers," Coughlin said. “We need to put the ball in the end zone. ... I don't have any question in him playing all three downs."

Fournette raced to a 4.51-second 40-yard dash time at the combine, the fastest time for a running back weighing 240 or more since at least 2003. He is just the second LSU player drafted by the Jaguars since 2003, when they picked fellow Tigers running back LaBrandon Toefield in the fourth round. 

"I didn't know they were going to pick me," Fournette said. "It's crazy."

Many analysts had Fournette pegged as a surefire top 10 pick ahead of Thursday's first round. The same went for Adams, the versatile and speedy former All-American and three-year starter for the Tigers.

White was a borderline first- or second-round prospect. At 10:15 p.m. CDT, three hours into the draft, Goodell called his name.

"There were so many tears flowing," said White, who grew up in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Shreveport where he shared a mattress — not a bed — with his brother. "My eyes were blurry. I couldn’t see what was going on."

Some analysts predicted Adams as high as No. 3. He fell, relatively speaking, to sixth.

"The Jets, on my visit, they told me that if I slip to 6 — which they didn’t see coming — it was a no-brainer, they were going to come and get me," Adams said. "They kept their word. It means everything to me. Everything happens for a reason."

The Texas native joined an exclusive club Thursday. Jamal and his father, George, became just the eighth father-son tandem to be selected in the first round. George Adams was the 19th pick of the 1985 draft, going to the New York Giants before a horrific hip injury crippled his career.

The Adams family has deep ties to that area. George met Jamal's mother, Michelle, while playing for the Giants. She's from Yonkers, New York, and the family used to own a home in Hackensack, New Jersey. 

"New York, George! Back to New York!" a member of Adams' entourage yelled at his father as Jamal received the call from the Jets. 

George placed his hand on his son's back as Jamal fielded a call similar to the one he took from Bill Parcells some 32 years ago. Still to this day, George Adams is a huge Giants fans, his wife said in a past interview. 

That might change.

"He’s not afraid to tell Giants fans that he’s a part of the Jet family now," Jamal said. "Right now as we speak, he’s bleeding green and white."

Ed Orgeron, LSU's big Cajun coach whom Jamal invited to attend the draft, had reason to celebrate with Adams and Fournette in the green room. This will be a recruiting tool for the recruiting guru. 

"It was awesome," he said of sitting back stage in the room full of prospects. "It was great."

LSU had multiple first-rounders for the seventh time in school history: It also happened in 2013, 2012, 2007, 1962, 1960 and 1951. 

"Tremendous night. Tremendous night for the LSU Tiger family," Orgeron told The Advocate. "You see the developing that goes on at LSU. The recruiting process, it’s exactly what you want. Leonard Fournette was the No. 1 player in the country from south Louisiana. Tre White was one one of the top players in north Louisiana. Jamal was a top player in Texas, a place we want to recruit heavily. Great story."

Adams is the first LSU player selected by the Jets since Dan Alexander in 1977, but he made quite a mark even before the selections began.

Like the other player attendees here, Adams walked the red carpet about an hour before the draft Thursday night, exiting the renowned Philadelphia Museum of Art and waltzing down a 50-yard red strip, surrounded my screaming fans and flickering cameras.

Adams wore one of the most extravagant suits of any of the 22 players, sporting white plaid pants, a matching jacket and a tie-less blue shirt underneath — and sunglasses at sunset, hiding his eyes.

"I had to do it big," Adams said of the custom-made getup. "I felt like I was the best-dressed. Nobody can compete with me."

George and Michelle Adams walked with their son, stopping for a quick television interview where George, a Super Bowl winner with the Giants, flashed his world championship ring.

"This takes hard work," he said, pointing to the sparkling piece of jewelry. 

 

He then predicted his son would win "two to three" Super Bowl rings.

"I just hope to get one," Jamal said.

Fournette, Adams and White served as the program's 39th, 40th and 41st first-round picks, and LSU has now had a first-round pick in 11 of the past 14 drafts. 

Thursday night's results, although expected, send the Tigers into the weekend with high hopes of breaking the school record of total selections in one draft — 10. And, still, as of 10 p.m. CDT and 26 picks in, White waited backstage to hear his name. 

LSU could have three more, and as many as five, go during Friday's second and third rounds, including linebackers Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley, center Ethan Pocic, defensive lineman Davon Godchaux and receiver Malachi Dupre.

For Adams and Fournette, this was a long, long time coming. And they did it together — just like they did three years ago, giving their verbal pledge to LSU at the Under Armour game in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"(Seems) like it was yesterday," Adams said earlier this week. 

"Three years went by fast," he said Thursday night. "All I can say is go Tigers!"


MULTI-FIRST ROUNDERS

Multiples LSU players landed in the first round Thursday, the seventh time that's happened in school history. 

 Year

 First round picks

 2017

 Leonard Fournette (4th), Jamal Adams (6th), Tre'Davious White (27th)

 2013

 Barkevious Mingo (6th overall), Eric Reid (18th)

 2012

 Morris Claiborne (6th), Michael Brockers (14th)

 2007

 JaMarcus Russell (1st), LaRon Landry (6th), Dwayne Bowe (23rd), Craig Davis (30th)

 1962

 Wendell Harris (9th), Earl Gros (14th)

 1960

 Billy Cannon (1st), Johnny Robinson (3rd)

 1951

 Y.A. Tittle (3rd), Elbert Van Buren (7th), Kenny Konz (14th)

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.