Patriots Draft Spotlight: Todd Gurley

New England made due with their mixed bag of a running backs in 2014, but it's time to take a look into the draft for playmaker out of the backfield. Nothing makes an aging quarterbacks job easier than handing off to a back that can make plays. Today we breakdown star Georgia running back Todd Gurley, a sure-fire top ten pick until a knee injury ended his season.

The Patriots are in an enviable position with the 32 pick and another Super Bowl ring in their trophy case. One thing is clear, this team is built to win and a couple tweaks at certain positions could make this team even better. Running back is one area where the Patriots need some consistency and explosiveness. Stevan Ridley is a good back, but he is a free agent and even if he returns, he won't be up to form for awhile. New England has proven in the past that they are not afraid to take a running back late in the first round (Lawrence Maroney, 24th overall) so it wouldn't be crazy for them to go get a back at 32. One player that may entice them to make that move is Todd Gurley out of Georgia.

Gurley, who declared early as a junior, is a big play waiting to happen. Gurley did have some injury issues in college, missing three games his sophomore year and seven more his junior year, but Gurley remained as productive as any back in the country when he was on the field. Gurley is 6'1, 236 pounds and he runs "heavy", which means he is hard to take down. He has also shown awesome acceleration in his three years at Georgia, but scouts are interested to see if any of his explosiveness has been lost after the injuries.

Gurley put up some serious statistics in his 30 games as a Bulldog. Gurley carried the ball 510 times for 3,285 yards (6.4 YPC) and 36 touchdowns. He AVERAGED over 100 yards rushing and at least one touchdown for every game he played in college. Gurley also racked up 65 catches for 615 yards and another six touchdowns. Gurley also picked up two touchdowns on kickoff returns, so he's not only a nightmare for defenses, he is also a special teams demon.

Gurley is built like a bigger back, but his quickness and breakaway speed are on par with smaller scat-backs, so he is a rare player that doesn't come along every year. With his ability to catch, some have compared him to former-Colt Edgerrin James, who was an All-Pro and one of the best three-down backs in the game for almost a decade. James didn't have the same size from a weight perspective, but he was also 6'1, long and had great hands. Three down backs are few and far between in the NFL these days, and although Gurley did share carries with Keith Marshall, he has the build to play every down. Hopefully his injuries are a thing of the past and he hasn't lost a step; modern medicine makes the ACL tear less of a fear but sometimes you just never know how some guys heal.

Most teams shy away from drafting running backs in the first round, but Bill Belichick doesn't listen to conventional wisdom and every time people think they have him figured out, he switches it up. If there is a star running back with game-changing ability staring him in the face when he makes his first selection, it is going to be very hard for him to draft someone else.

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