Having proven to be a dynamic and productive runner, a fact backed up by his 4,915 career rushing yards and 49 total touchdowns, Gordon knew he needed to show that he could be multidimensional after he caught just 22 passes for 228 yards in four seasons.
And per usual, Gordon accomplished what he set out to achieve.
“What I wanted to do was come out and catch the ball well,” said Gordon. “I know I’d be good on drills; I’ve been doing that since I got to Wisconsin. A lot of people were wondering could I catch the ball. After the combine, I really didn’t have too many opportunities to catch the ball away from my body. I did today.”
Working out with former Wisconsin teammates Kenzel Doe, Rob Havenstein, Warren Herring, Peniel Jean, Jeff Lewis, Dallas Lewallen and Jacob Pedersen, Gordon took handoffs and exploded over and around bags with the same precision cuts he did against Auburn, Iowa, Nebraska and others, after which he began collecting business cards from a handful of the 28 teams who sent scouts or executives to the workout.
He also ran a variety of passing routes and caught the ball with confidence and consistency, only letting one pass hit the turf.
“I wanted to prove to myself that I can catch the ball,” said Gordon. “I came out here and did that.”
He considered doing more drills, but was told – presumably by his agent - to let his combine numbers stand - 4.52 40-yard dash, 2.66 20-yard dash, 19 bench reps at 225 pounds, 35 inch vertical jump 10-6 broad jump.
“The whole purpose of the NFL combine, to me, is the interviews,” said Gordon, who also ran the 60-yard shuttle in 11.00 seconds, the fastest time in almost eight years. “I think that’s the biggest part, just letting teams know who you are as a person. That’s what I really wanted to get across. The on-the-field stuff speaks for itself…I think I left a good impression.”
Gordon declared for the draft after a junior season in which he won the Doak Walker Award, rushed for a Big Ten-record 2,587 yards (second most all time) and led the nation with a 184.8 rushing average.
Only the third player in FBS history to rush for at least 2,000 yards and score 30 TDs in a season (Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders and UCF's Kevin Smith), Gordon set the FBS record for career rushing average with 7.79 yards per carry, owns 22 career 100-yard games, including 19 of 140-plus yards and seven of 200-plus yards, and holds school rushing average records for a career (7.79 yards per carry), a season (7.81 ypc, 2013) and a game (19.5, vs. Bowling Green, 9/20/2014).
He also rushed for 408 yards in three quarters against Nebraska, a FBS record that lasted all of one week.
“As great of a player as Melvin is, he’s even a better person,” said Havenstein, Gordon’s former right tackle. “He’s just an unbelievable player, an unbelievable person. Everything about him, to me, just screams have me on your team. Melvin is just that type of guy. The explosiveness, the knowledge, the athletics, everything you want in a football player Melvin has got.”
Gordon admits to paying attention to NFL Mock Drafts but not putting much stock into the projections. He also has been an interested observer in the NFL free agency bonanza to see which organizations are trading for running backs, including some teams who had been showing some early interest.
Planning to kill time on campus to workout with assistant strength coach Jamil Walker and former strength coach Brian Bott before starting to visit teams, Gordon is ready to get started after delaying his professional aspirations one season.
“I’d be disappointed (if not selected in the first round) but (it) honestly don’t matter,’ said Gordon. “It’s about what you do when you get there.”