AnalysisI am a huge Todd Gurley guy. I would have loved to have seen him get through 2014 unscathed and healthy because I firmly believe he would have broken the hex that has been on running backs not taken or not taken highly in the first round. A healthy Todd Gurley is a top ten talent in this draft class and that’s being conservative. His draft status will all depend on the individual teams medical staffs and how they view his injured knee. Gurley has it all as a runner – size, strength, speed and athleticism. He has a chance to be something special on Sundays.
Dave-Te' Thomas Player Evaluation
I love this pick by the St. Louis Rams in grabbing running back Todd Gurley. He’s a franchise back that if healthy, could be a difference maker. Gurley has it all as a runner – size, strength, speed and athleticism. He has vision and balance and he can run between the tackles and outside on the perimeter. He’s also a superior kick return guy. In a physical and tough division like the NFC West Gurley will be a huge addition to the Rams. He has a chance to be something special on Sundays.
Let’s face it, 2014 has not been the best of years for Bulldogs junior Todd Gurley – a suspension for a sports memorabilia signing, only to suffer a knee injury upon his return to wipe out the rest of his final season at Georgia. While Melvin Gordon might have passed Gurley on most team draft boards, he is still a better all-around athlete than the Badgers ball carrier, as he is not only a quality runner, but also excels as a receiver out of the backfield and is a dangerous kickoff returner.
The 232-pound junior has proven to be a potent option in all three phases, as his 4,322 all-purpose yards in just three seasons is second-best in school annals behind Herschel Walker (5,749). His 44 total touchdowns also rank second to Walker’s 52 and his average of 6.44 yards per rushing attempt broke the old Georgia record of 6.42 yards by Charley Trippi (1942, 1945-46).
In just six games, he was twice named National Player of the Week, finishing with 911 yards and nine touchdowns on 123 attempts (7.4 ypc) in 2014. The biggest test for Gurley will be when he steps in front of team medical staffs at the NFL Scouting Combine. He needs to assure GMs that he is not getting to the dreaded “injury prone” stage most ball carriers with a huge work load experience.
In addition to his knee injury this season, he had an ankle injury in 2013 that cost Gurley three games, but there might not be a big back in college that has the pure blend of power, balance and quickness that the Bulldog possesses. Compared favorably to Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch, he can generate a second gear to separate in the open and has the nimble feet needed to make precise lateral cuts.
Gurley has good timed speed, building his acceleration quickly coming out of his stance. He is not an explosive runner around the corner, but shows very good patience waiting for blocks to develop. He can generate a second gear to separate in the open and has the nimble feet needed to make precise lateral cuts. His loose hips and change of direction agility makes him very elusive avoiding traffic.
The Bulldog has nice feet and above average balance in his initial burst, doing a nice job of “getting skinny” to pick his way through tight creases. He keeps his feet after contact and has the pick-&-slide agility to elude when running in-line. He runs with a normal stride, but is very crisp redirecting on the move.
Gurley has a very good understanding of the offense and blocking schemes. He shows the vision to locate the soft areas in the zone and shows no hesitation redirecting when the rush lanes are clogged. He has a natural feel with the ball in his hands, doing a fine job of anticipating in-line openings. He has no problems taking plays from the chalkboard to the playing field.
Gurley excels at finding the cutback lanes. He has the ability to bounce off the tackle and make the initial defender miss. He is a patient runner who gets most of his success because of his feel for the rush lanes, as it is rare to see him run into traffic. He does a very good job of setting up his blocks and shows no hesitation running through openings when he locates them.
Gurley has soft, natural hands, doing a good job of catching the ball outside his frame. He has the vision to look the ball in over his outside shoulder and the cutting agility to separate after the catch. He is used mostly on controlled routes, but has the quick stride to be lined wide or in the slot. He is very effective settling in underneath and is alert to coverage (very rare to see him run into crowded spots).
Gurley is a willing blocker with a good eye for picking up the blitz. He shows good intent and aggression chipping on edge rushers and gives the quarterback enough room to operate when protecting the pocket. He will not hesitate to face up and fight for position blocking in-line and makes a determined effort to engage. He is a good contact seeker in space, taking good angles when cut blocking.
NFL Scouting Combine measurables
31 1/2-inch arm length
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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