We interrupt your daily Adrian Peterson chatter to examine a prospect that could be the next Peterson. Yes, we’re talking about Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who had a strange season last year.
If you never caught Gurley’s eye-popping highlights, you definitely knew his name last year when he was suspended four games for exchanging autographs for cash. Once he returned from suspension, Gurley tore his ACL against Auburn.
Up until that point, Gurley was a Heisman candidate and one of the most dynamic players in the country at 6-1 and 222 pounds.
By the Numbers:
Freshman (14 games): 222 carries, 1,385 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns, 16 receptions, 117 receiving yards
Sophomore (10 games): 165 carries, 989 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns, 37 receptions, 441 receiving yards, six touchdowns
Junior (six games): 123 carries, 911 rushing yards, nine touchdowns, 12 receptions, 57 receiving yards
Gurley averaged 6.4 yards per carry in three seasons. He was the second freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in school history. The first was some guy named Herschel Walker in 1980.
He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns during his career and ran the seventh-fastest 60-meter hurdles time in school history at 8.12 seconds.
Gurley’s pretty good.
Combine/Pro Day results:
40-yard dash: N/A
Bench press (225 pounds): N/A
Broad jump: N/A
But Gurley’s health is the biggest concern among NFL teams at the moment. He’s still recovering from ACL surgery and didn’t participate at the NFL Combine or Georgia’s pro day. Gurley didn’t even get his knee examined by doctors at the combine so it wouldn’t slow down his recovery time. Gurley will return to Indianapolis this weekend for a medical re-check, which should give teams a better idea if there are any red flags with his knee.
When healthy though, Gurley was in a league of his own among running backs in college football. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon was really good in college. Gurley was great. This wouldn’t even be a comparison if Gurley was healthy.
Georgia football games were must-see-TV when Gurley played. Every time Gurley touched the ball, you thought he was going to score a touchdown. Before the injury, he truly was a special talent that had great size, speed and power. He could run between the tackles, but Gurley was so dangerous when he bounced outside and turned the corner. Gurley wasn’t scared of contact. Per Pro Football Focus, Gurley led the nation forcing a missed tackle on every 3.3 rush attempts.
His biggest area of improvement is pass protection. Based on what I saw, Gurley seemed to pickup outside blitzes fine. But he could use some work protecting between the tackles.
It’s only five games from this season, and nobody knows at the moment how his knee feels, so there’s a lot of uncertainty on whether Gurley will return to form. It doesn’t help him that it’s a really good draft for running backs and teams can find value in Day 2 or 3. Some other names I do like that will get picked after the first round are Boise State’s Jay Ajayi, Northern Iowa’s David Johnson and Minnesota’s David Cobb.
But I love Gurley. Even as he recovers from ACL surgery, I’d still pick him in the first round and ahead of Gordon. Yes, I know, he’s a running back and that position shouldn’t warrant a first round selection. But he’s going to be special. And, yes, I’m banking on his medical exam this weekend coming back clean.