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Todd Gurley, the junior running back from the Georgia Bulldogs, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after an unfortunate, season-ending knee injury in 2014. Gurley tore the ACL in his left knee in mid-November. Prior to the injury, Gurley managed 123 carries for 911 yards and 9 TDs (7.4 YPC). For his career, Gurley carried the ball 510 times for 3,285 yards and 36 TDs. He averaged 6.0 YPC or more in each of his three seasons as a Bulldog. Gurley showcased his talent as a receiver in 2013 when he caught 37 passes for 441 yards and 6 TDs. He managed only 28 receptions in his other two seasons, combined. Gurley was named First Team All-SEC after his freshman season (2012) when he ran 222 times for 1,385 yards and 17 TDs. He was only the second true freshman in Georgia Bulldog history to eclipse 1,ooo yards in a season (Herschel Walker). Physically, Gurley has the makeup needed to be a feature back in the NFL. He’s a big guy who packs a strong 232 lbs behind his pads. He’s on the taller side (6’1″), but he runs with good enough pad level that he protects his frame from the big hit. Gurley is an old-school power player who punishes defenders between the tackles. He has the size and “want” to wear defenders down during the course of a game. He’s patient enough to setup his blocks and has quick-enough feet to navigate his way to and through the hole. Gurley has enough burst to dash into the second level, and while he’s not a burner in the traditional sense, he does have enough long speed to beat third-level defenders to the house. He has loose hips and a strong jump cut that he uses to his advantage in the open field. Gurley has good vision and is decisive behind the LOS, rarely losing yards because of too many steps. As a receiver, he has soft hands and is patient enough to let his downfield blocks develop. Gurley can thump in pass protection and appears NFL-ready to be on the field as a three-down back.
BOTTOM LINE: While the value of the running back position has been questioned in recent years, the simple fact is that a “football player” like Todd Gurley doesn’t come around all that often. Gurley isn’t as explosive as some of the other running backs in this year’s class, but his game is so balanced and well-rounded that he projects as a safe and productive first-round pick. Gurley has the kind of body control, balance and coordination that is hard to find, and he reminds me a little bit of Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks.) While his knee injury could cause him to slide, the early returns on his recovery have been positive. He’s a first-round talent that will upgrade an offense as soon as he recovers to full health.
GRADE: 8.2 (1st Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)