While there is always going to be mystery when it comes to the NFL Draft, over the years the Dallas Cowboys have done their fans a bit of a favor and tipped their hands so to speak. Not only have they (not once, but twice) given us a look at their draft boards after that year’s draft was completed, but in their actions they’ve also alerted us to some key tells about their actions. In our must-read post from earlier in the off-season “6 Draft Tendencies and Tells” we listed the following:
This is by no means an end-all be-all list. Morris Claiborne wasn’t invited to the Ranch, and Dallas spend two picks to acquire him. Maybe the lack of development their helped guide their hand recently, as eight of their picks over the last two years were in for official visits. In that vein, we’ll be bringing you in-depth looks at the draft candidates that Dallas schedules for visits, so that you can be better informed about the small sample size many of the next group of Cowboys will likely come from.
Name: Todd Gurley Position: Running Back School: Georgia Height: 6’1” Weight: 222 LBs Intangibles/Honors: Suffered Season ending Torn ACL on November 15, 2014 Served 4 game suspension in 2014 for accepting money to autograph memorabilia Team Captain in 4 of his 6 games in 2014, and 3 of 10 games in 2013 UGA Offensive MVP 2014 Pre-Season All SEC First Team (Coaches & Media) 2013 & 2014 All SEC Second Team (AP) 2013 All SEC First Team (AP) 2012 FWAA Freshmen All American 2012 Sporting News All America 2012
pSparq Score: NA (did not participate in athletic drills at the NFL Combine or Georgia Pro Day due to injury) pSparq is an approximation of the “Sparq Score” metric invented by NIKE (with the help of former USC and current Seattle Seahawks Head Coach, Pete Carroll), designed as a way to standardize athletic testing of High School athletes and interpret their athleticism with a sport specific formula. For more on pSparq,(and the man behind the math Zach Whitman) check out 3sigmaathlete.com
Measurables vs others at his position:
Games Studied: Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee Run Game: Gurley is an impressive athlete, who has everything you look for from a back when he’s carrying the ball. In the games I watched he showed very high level vision and ability to make NFL level cut backs on both the Inside Zone, and Outside Zone run plays, turning them into explosive runs. His burst and how quickly he gets to full speed really makes him special. When the hole opens up and he turns up field, it only takes him about two steps to reach full speed, which, combined with his very good long speed, helps him beat defenders’ pursuit angles, net big yards, and finish plays for six points. In addition to his ability to make big plays, he rarely goes down behind the line of scrimmage (only saw twice in three games), is extremely tough to tackle one on one, and possesses a very strong stiff arm that allows him to keep tacklers off his body. Gurley is the type of back that always falls forward, and turns zero yard runs into 3 yard gains, getting the “dirty yards.” Pass Game: Gurley is an effective weapon in the pass game as well as the run game. He is a natural catcher of the football who uses his athletic ability, and explosive running style to make plays after the catch. He’s also a willing protector with the football intelligence to recognize his man, and the lower body power to anchor in protection when called upon.
Conclusion/Cowboys Projection: Todd Gurley is a special player at a position in a unique place in the NFL. It has been a few years since we’ve seen a back taken in the first round of the draft, as teams have seen the surplus of available backs, and decided to go in other directions with their premium capital while waiting until later in the draft or free agency to acquire a runner. However, scheme transcendent talents like Gurley come along once every 5-10 years and justify using a high pick regardless of position. Add in the fact that he will be only 21 years old when the 2015 season starts, and you have the recipe for a RB who will be around for 7-8 years. The only reason he may be available when the Cowboys are on the clock with the 27th pick in the first round, is because of the torn ACL injury he suffered on November 15th, which will likely keep him out of off-season activities and will put the start of training camp, and potentially the first few weeks of the regular season in question. His draft position will be significantly impacted by the medical re-checks in Indianapolis on April 18th. If he was selected by the Cowboys he would immediately slide into the lead role in Dallas’ backfield when healthy, and be a guy they could hand it to 20-25 times a game. With Gurley in the fold, the Cowboys’ offense would likely be improved from where it was with now departed DeMarco Murray at running back.
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