Cowboys 2015 Draft Profiles: RB Melvin Gordon

Eight of the Cowboys draft picks over the last two years were brought 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. ... Plus, the very latest from inside Valley Ranch ...

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 “< ahref= “” target=”_blank”>6 Draft Tendencies and Tells” we listed the following:

    5. Dallas uses their Valley Ranch visits very wisely, and will most often select players throughout the draft that visit team headquarters through the 30 National invites of Dallas Day visits.

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: Melvin Gordon
Position: Running Back
School: Wisconsin
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 215 LBs
Served as a summer intern at Merrill Lynch in 2014
Volunteered as a teachers assistant, coaching youth football, and serving food at a homeless shelter while in high school
Doak Walker Award Winner – 2014
Heisman Trophy Finalist (runner-up) – 2014
Maxwell Award Finalist - 2014
Unanimous First Team All-American (Consensus) – 2014
Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year – 2014
First Team All Big-Ten (Consensus) – 2014
Academic All Big-Ten – 2013
Second Team All Big-Ten (consensus) – 2013
Honorable Mention All-American (SI) - 2013
Doak Walker & Maxwell Award Semifinalist – 2013
Academic All Big-Ten – 2012
pSparq Score: 125.7 Z-Score: 0.4 NFL Percentile: 63.9

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

Measurables vs others at his position:

Note: This spider graph provides a visual representation of a players’ measurable traits, and combine results. The filled in area of the chart, as well as the number in the light grey circle represents the percentile among the players peers by position. A score of 85 here represents that out of every 100 players at his position, the player has a better result in that test than 85 of those 100.

Games Studied: LSU, Nebraska, Ohio State

Run Game:

At the University of Wisconsin, Melvin Gordon was the definition of a big play running back, averaging 7.8 yards per carry for his career, scoring 45 rushing touchdowns in 4 years, including 29 his senior season. As a runner he shows good patience and vision on inside runs, with the quick feet to make a man miss in the hole, but isn’t the type of guy who will lower his head and get 3 dirty yards when the play is blocked for zero. He does possess the transmission to drop a gear and take off when the lane opens up, and it is fun to watch when he gets the chance because it’s going to be an explosive play.

He bounces the ball outside more than I like for my back, but he understands how to press the edge and cut back when there’s an opportunity which keeps him from taking too many losses when he bounces. However, an even bigger problem for me, is that when the play isn’t blocked cleanly he has a tendency to stop his feet, before attempting to restart or bounce outside, which is a death sentence for a run at the NFL Level. Wisconsin runs a ton of “Power” run plays with a guard pulling in front of him and he does a very good job following that guy, and breaking off of that block into space. He also benefits from the misdirection that Wisconsin generates in their scheme using “jet-sweep” action to cause the defense to widen and open up holes for him. As his touchdown numbers indicate, he has a major nose for the end zone and finishes in the paint when he gets the chance (1 TD every 14 carries for his career).

Pass Game:

Gordon was used only occasionally as a receiver in the pass game as his career went on, which leaves questions about his hands that will need to be answered in a private workout/pro day type environments, but was actually asked to protect the passer rather often in the games I saw. He showed the football intelligence and toughness to diagnose a blitz, cross the QBs face, and the deliver a solid blow to an on-coming defender to give his man time to unload the throw. Showed the willingness multiple times to deliver a chip with his shoulder to a rusher who was being blocked by one of his linemen to help keep them contained.

Conclusion/Cowboys Projection:

Although there is a pretty significant gap between Gordon and our last prospect, Todd Gurley, in my opinion. I do view Gordon as the second best back in this class. There has been talk about teams being willing to take him in the first round, or even as the first back in the draft due to the questions surrounding Todd Gurley’s injury. I think he will be a productive back at the NFL level, and with the holes he would likely see behind the Dallas line I think he could be highly productive, however I personally feel as though the 27th pick is a little too rich for him, and he will almost definitely be selected before the 60th pick when Dallas is back on the clock. Unless Jerry Jones makes one of his typical first round trades, I think Gordon winds up elsewhere to begin his NFL career.

Onside Kicks

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