As we delve further into the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason, our attention has begun to shift towards the draft. Like we’ve done all offseason, these reports will cover the prospects of the 2015 NFL Draft, placing an emphasis on those who could help the Steelers the most.
Today we’re taking a look at one of the top running back prospects in this year’s class. Georgia’s Todd Gurley.
#3 – Todd Gurley/RB Georgia: 6’0/5 222
– NFL size, muscular frame with impressive lower half
– Rare combination of speed and power
– Acceleration is elite, reaches top speed quickly and makes him a constant threat for a big play
– Speed and burst to gain the edge, breakaway speed in the open field
– Has equally as good short-area quickness, capable of changing directions without losing speed
– Effortlessly wins in the open field against defensive backs
– Patience and vision to set up his blocks, underrated and overshadowed by his physical attributes, doesn’t dance and gets downhill in a hurry
– Overall, good job of falling forward on contact, balance to eek out a couple extra yards
– Seeks to finish his runs and delivers a punishing blow on contact
– Major asset in the return game
– Statistically prolific against SEC competition
– Coming off a torn ACL in left knee, unlikely to be ready for the start of the season
– Below average pass protector who won’t always square up and lacks core strength to absorb contact
– Does not have elite power or leg drive
– Runs a little too upright, partially due to above average height
– Occasionally a little reckless with his carriage of the football, must keep three points of contact
– Off the field concerns are minor and overall irrelevant, but still exist and must be mentioned
– Dealt with injury issues that has caused him to miss games the last two seasons
– 27 career starts
– 2014: 7.4 YPC, 9 TDs (6 games due to torn ACL and suspension)
– Named team offensive MVP despite missing a large portion of the year
– 2012, first and only fully healthy season: 1385 rushing yards, 6.2 YPC 17 TD
– Runner-up in school history in several categories including touchdowns, rushing yards, and yards per carry
– 65 career receptions, including 37 in 2013
– 11 career kick returns but two returns for touchdowns, both 100 yards
– Dealt with quad and ankle injuries in 2013, limiting him to 10 games in addition to the ACL tear in 2014
– Suspended 4 games in 2014 by NCAA for accepting money for autographs
– Four-star prospect coming out of high school
– 2600 total yards, 38 TDs his senior year
– Ran track for Team USA in summer of 2011
Don’t let the torn ACL deter you. Once Todd Gurley is healthy, he’s going to be a stud. Rare and unique combination of speed and power. In those cases, I’ll let the tape do the talking.
Despite the linebacker, #42 Stephone Anthony – a five star recruit and projected Day Two selection, mind you – and the safety having the angle, Gurley beats them both to the edge and downfield. Into the end zone for six.
One of my favorite attributes of Gurley’s game. Plants, explodes upfield, easily breaks the open field tackle by the DB, and scampers into the end zone. Makes it look effortless.
See a little bit of both. Eludes a diving ankle tackle, stiff-arms another, gains the edge, pulls off the hurdle downfield, and only takes himself out of the play when he can’t stick the landing.
In addition to the speed and power, he demonstrates vision and balance. Bounces this run outside as the lane collapses, stays on his feet, somehow shrugs off the defender despite regaining his own balance, and picks up the first down.
His flaws on the field are few. Like a lot of backs, he isn’t refined in pass protection. Gets blasted by the linebacker.
Oh yeah, he also excelled as a kick returner. Only 11 career returns, including only four in 2014, but he has a pair of 100 yard touchdowns. It would have been three scores on 12 returns had he not had a touchdown called back on the opening kickoff against Auburn.
His issues, of course, come off the field. Though largely irrelevant to NFL teams, it’s worth pointing out he was suspended in 2014 for accepting $3,000 in exchange for autographs. He came back and tore his ACL late in the game against Auburn, missing the final three contests.
Clearly, Gurley is not in the mix for the Steelers. But it’s nice to use him as a baseline to evaluate other backs. How middle round backs compare to the model, the gold medalist. And hey, it’s a lot of fun watching a prospect tear up defenses.
I’ll gladly trade six weeks for four years of production. Haven’t watched Melvin Gordon as closely as Gurley, that will happen soon, but the former Bulldog will be tough to top. A first rounder with little question in my mind.
Projection: Top 25
Games Watched: vs Clemson, vs Tennessee, vs Auburn
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