Let me start off by saying this- Yes, Todd Gurley tore an ACL, and yes, he did get in trouble with the NCAA. However, Todd Gurley is an absolute stud. Most of the media attention has been on Melvin Gordon, who is a great running back prospect in his own right and deserves the coverage he is getting, but there has been a surprising lack of coverage for Gurley, who unlike Gordon, is a generational talent.
Over the last couple of days I have watched plenty of tape on Gurley and have come to the conclusions published in this article. With a unique blend of size, speed and vision, a healthy Gurley projects to be a fantastic NFL running back, and could soon be a top 5 running back in the NFL. In this article, I will list Gurley’s metrics, college stats, break him down as a player, explain his difficult draft situation and give a pro-player comparison.
Combine Metrics:Nov 30, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) celebrates a touchdown in the first half against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Arm Length: 31 1/2”
2012: 222 carries for 1,385 yards. 6.2 ypc while adding 17 touchdowns. 16 receptions for 117 yards and no touchdowns.
2013: 165 carries for 989 yards. 6.0 ypc while adding 10 touchdowns. 37 receptions for 441 yards and 6 touchdowns.
2014: 123 carries for 911 yards. 7.4 ypc while adding 9 touchdowns. 12 receptions for 57 yards and no touchdowns.
While Gurley’s yards dropped each year, his play didn’t. In 2013 he missed 3 games due to an ankle injury, and in 2014 he suffered a torn ACL. Gurley averaged at least 6 ypc in each year at Georgia with an absolutely fantastic 7.4 ypc in 2014- an extremely impressive feat. Over his 3 year career at Georgia, Gurley also returned a total of 11 kicks for 422 yards and 2 touchdowns. That’s an average of 38.4 yards per-return and a touchdown on 18.2% of his kickoff returns, folks.Sep 27, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) jumps and reaches to score a touchdown against the Tennessee Volunteers during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Tennessee 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
+ Light feet, has shown the ability to tip-toe through holes and tap-dance his way around defenders in small areas.
+ Great blend of size, speed and vision. Boasts a muscular but at the same time lean frame to help him with power while not sacrificing any speed. Consistently takes angles away from defenders with cuts and sometimes simply outruns angles. Runs with a long stride and confidence.
+ Runs with good pad level and balance. Was consistently able to keep his balance after hard body hits (Not arm tackles) to the lower body, which are typically some of the hardest tackles to recover from.
+ Doesn’t lose much speed when confronting a tackler. Even if tackled, he often will have so much momentum that he will be able to lunge forward, picking up a few extra yards in the process.
+ Good at reading his blockers. Once his mind is made up, he hits a hole with a purpose and incredible burst.
+ Converts cuts to speed very well and accelerates very quickly.
+ Possesses a nasty stiff-arm that takes defenders by surprise. Rounds it out with a mean jump-cut and a natural juke-move with an impressive shift in center-gravity for a guy his size due to his light feet and great coordination.
+ Only fumbled 3 times out of 510 carries.
+ Tackle breaking machine. Rarely brought down by the first tackler. According to NFL.com, 61.9% of his rushing yards in 2014 came after contact.
+ Good hands in the pass game.
+ Was a hurdler for Team USA in 2011 and for Georgia in 2013. Owns the 7th fastest time in school history for the 60-meter hurdles at 8.12 seconds.
– Can stand to be more patient with his blockers. While he is decisive in hitting his holes, he can sometimes miss an opening hole due to a lack of patience.
– While he has shown the ability to make defenders miss in small areas, he doesn’t do so consistently.Nov 15, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt and training staff tend to running back Todd Gurley (3) after an injury in the fourth quarter of their game against the Auburn Tigers at Sanford Stadium. Georgia won 34-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
– Tore his ACL in 2014 and missed 3 games due to an ankle injury in 2013. Durability is obviously a concern, as is his recovery from the ACL injury that was suffered in November.
– Didn’t stand out in pass protection.
– Sometimes tries to do too much, often resulting in yards left on the field. Looks for his cutback lane too often.
– Was suspended 4 games in 2014 for accepting over $3,000 for autographed memorabilia and other items over a two-year period of time.
While Gurley is easily a top-5 talent in this draft prior to his injury, the injury really complicates things. Mock drafts typically mock Gurley off the board somewhere between the middle of round 1 and the middle of round 2, with my opinion siding with the former. The more and more I watch Gurley, the less likely I think it is an NFL GM lets him slip to the 2nd round. I see the “Todd Gurley Draft Watch” starting around Minnesota’s pick at 11 and ending around the Cowboys pick at 27. However, nothing is for sure in the NFL Draft, and I can see a scenario unfolding where a team such as the Atlanta Falcons who need a running back fall in love with the Georgia product and pull the trigger at 8, while I can also see the tremendous depth in this draft at running back pushing Gurley out of the first, although I see either of these as unlikely. A few teams to watch for Gurley in the draft include the Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, San Diego Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, and the Dallas Cowboys.
While many draft-nicks compare Gurley to Lynch, I see him as a better comparison to Walter Payton. While Gurley certainly shares plenty of good traits with Lynch, such as the light feet and tackle-breaking ability, Gurley doesn’t possess the same bulk that Lynch does at this point in his career. Walter Payton possesses a similar frame to Gurley and had a similar running style, bouncing off plenty of tacklers while maintaining good balance and possessing the speed to score from anywhere on the field.
Todd Gurley is a hard runner who blends size, speed, and vision like a well-made fruit smoothie. He runs with a “You Can’t Tackle Me” attitude, and is a threat to take it to the house anytime he touches the ball. Averaging 7.4 ypc in the SEC, which features extremely stout defenses such as Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State and LSU is no small task. With plenty of “Best Mode” style runs on his résumé, Gurley is going to come into the NFL with high expectations despite the fact that he is coming off an injury known to temporarily inhibit athleticism. However, Gurley’s age and the ongoing advancements in the medical world combined with a good NFL training staff could limit these consequences and allow Gurley to thrive in his first year in the NFL. The future is bright for this budding star.
As always, thanks for reading. Don’t forget to comment below and follow me on twitter @jackmack28.