As crazy as it sounds, two running backs – those are the guys standing near the quarterback before the snap (yes, they still exist) – could be taken in the first round of next week’s NFL Draft.
Did you hear that? First round! Stop the madness, right?
Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon are two of the best college tailbacks we’ve seen in quite some time – and a pair of NFL teams could soon reward them for it.
But which one is the better prospect? For many people, this is the flip of the coin. For Peter Schrager, however, it is not.
“I would be shocked if Gordon went before Gurley,” the Fox Sports 1 NFL analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I think Gurley might end up going even top 15. I know (Todd) McShay and (Mike) Mayock both have him top 10 now. That’s a bit ambitious. That’s a bit of a reach. But I could see him going to the Dolphins at 14.”
The fact that Gurley could be a first-round pick – an early first-round pick, at that – almost defies logic. Conventional wisdom says that running backs have been devalued in recent years. Plus, Gurley is coming off a torn ACL and didn’t even run at the NFL Combine.
How has he shot up draft boards like this?
“It’s because teams are falling in love with him,” Schrager said. “What they watch when he’s healthy on film – the guy was unbelievable. I had a GM tell me last week that this guy is as good as any running back he’s scouted – you can roll your eyes because we’ve heard this about Trent Richardson, we’ve heard this about Eddie Lacy – since Adrian Peterson. That was 2007. That’s a solid eight years ago. Saying he’s the best running back in eight years – he does it all. He catches, he’s fast.
“With ACLs now, it’s not like it was 10 years now,” Schrager continued. “You saw Adrian Peterson, who might be Superman, come back. We also saw a guy like Chris Harris come back. We’ve seen some quarterbacks come back from it. It’s a surgery that these guys have perfected. Dr. James Andrews did the surgery, and he’s given him his bill of health, saying he’s an A-plus. Teams have liked Todd Gurley and now that they’re bringing him in the building, he’s wow-ing them. Todd Gurley might be the first running back taken in the first round in three years – and I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s top 15.”
Schrager also wouldn’t be shocked if Gurley is on an NFL field sooner than you think.
“I think you expect to get him first half of the rookie season,” he said. “I really do. I really do. I really think this guy might be back Week 3, Week 4. We’ve seen these ACL tears. People come back from them. It happens. This kid’s been training. He’s been fortunate – that sounds odd to say – but he was fortunate to (get) hurt in the middle of the season and not the end of the season. So he had a couple of months (to recover). He’s had the surgery. He couldn’t run at the combine. He hasn’t run really for teams since, but (the) surgery’s been done. It’s successful. And now he’s just in the rehab process.”
Gordon, meanwhile, could still be a first-round pick, but he doesn’t inspire the same excitement as Gurley – even though he’s completely healthy.
“Teams were not overwhelmed with what they saw from Melvin Gordon when they brought him in and at the combine,” Schrager said. “I think everyone expected him to run a 4.3 (in the) 40. He ran about a 4.5. He wasn’t this burner that everyone expected. He had a great college season at Wisconsin, but I don’t know if he’s a first-round pick like everyone says. I think he might go in the 20s to 32, in that range. But I don’t see Melvin going before Todd Gurley.”