CFF Player Profile: Todd Gurley, HB
Matt Claassen breaks down the risk and reward associated with drafting Georgia running back Todd Gurley.
CFF Player Profile: Todd Gurley, HB
Today our CFF Player Profile is going to look at our first prospect that is not expected to be drafted in the first 10 picks of the draft, and that is former Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Gurley has long been regarded as one of the best backs in the nation since his freshman year when he was named to the AP’s All-SEC team in 2012. But in a time where there hasn’t been a running back taken in the first round since 2012 and Gurley is rehabbing a knee injury, where does his draft value stand?
Gurley’s junior year took a few twists and turns that led to him missing seven of Georgia’s games due to suspension and injury. Even though he played 239 offensive snaps in less than six full games, Gurley still put plenty on film during his half-season.
Overview & Stats
The first thing you notice when watching Gurley is how powerful and explosive he is as a ball-carrier. He repeatedly runs through arm tackles and picks up yards after first contact. He is capable of carrying the load and just wearing defenses down. No one will ever question Gurley’s effort as he is always fighting to finish runs. When his blocking is insufficient, his power allows him to create his own yardage better than most other players. Gurley’s average of 4 yards after contact per rush against Power 5 opponents was nearly a half-yard more than the next 2015 draft prospect, Tevin Coleman.
While his powerful running style and size alone are great traits to boast, his speed and quickness combined with his size are what set him apart. Gurley can run defenders over, or run around them, and once he is in the open field in one-on-one situations, he has plenty of lateral agility to make defenders miss. Gurley forced no less than six missed tackles in each of his games against Power 5 defenses and on average he forced a missed tackle once every 3.2 rush attempts. Not only was that the most frequent rate in this draft class, but it was also the best in the entire nation.
Gurley shows good vision and can excel in both power and zone run schemes. He typically displays patience when waiting for holes to open up, but occasionally does get a little impatient. Once he locates the crease, his quick acceleration through the hole exposes defenders with poor pursuit angles and turns plays into long runs. He had a 25-plus yard run in all six games last year, and in four of the six games he had gains of at least 40 yards.
As a receiver Gurley can be just as threatening to defenses. He didn’t have quite the same opportunity in the passing game as he did in 2013, but he caught all 12 passes thrown his way last year and still displayed the same type of playmaking ability downfield.
As with much of the running back draft class, Gurley has room for improvement in pass protection. He allowed two hits and two hurries on 15 snaps where he stayed in to pass block during 2014. It is not enough of a weakness that would prevent him from being an immediate three-down back in the NFL, but he could use some fine tuning. He does still have two and a half years of pass blocking experience and remains one of the better blockers of the draft class.
For most people, the biggest knock on Gurley is that he is recovering from a torn ACL. Anymore, many athletes bounce back fine after knee injuries and recovery times seemingly continue to improve. However, not everyone is as fortunate and recovery times will vary depending on the person. When training camp opens in July, he will be just eight months removed from the injury, and roughly 10 months by the time the regular season opens.
Beyond the knee injury, he also missed games in 2013 due to an ankle injury. Is there a major concern about his durability? No. But it is a small piece of the puzzle, especially for a punishing back like Gurley. The silver lining behind the injuries, though, is that he enters the NFL without a massive workload in college and less wear and tear than a lot of prior prospects of his caliber.
There’s no question that Gurley is the most physically gifted running back in the draft. His speed to go along with his size and strength is a combination we haven’t seen in a prospect for a few years. Without the injury he is worthy of a first-round draft pick. Despite the injury, he should still be in consideration for teams at the bottom of the round that need a running back. Even if it is assumed that he could potentially miss games or have a limited impact in his first year, that is just one of up to five seasons they could have a potential franchise running back on a rookie contract.
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