Georgia RB Todd Gurley**
6'½", 222 lb.
North Carolina AP Player of the Year (2012)
Texans analyst and radio sideline reporter John Harris unveiled his top 100 prospects for the NFL Draft. (Photos courtesy of AP)
11th ranked RB in 2012 graduating class by ESPN
10th overall in the state of North Carolina by ESPN
Ran for 2,600 yards and 38 TD as a senior
Ran for 1,472 yards, 26 TD, 79 tackles, one INT and a forced fumble as a junior
Ran track for Team USA in Europe during spring/summer of 2011
Second UGA freshman RB to rush for over 1,000 - 1,385 (Herschel Walker in 1980)
FWAA First team freshman All-American (2012)
First team All-SEC - Media (2012)
Second team All-SEC - Media (2013)
Voted team's offensive MVP, even though he only played in six games
Arms: 32 ½"
**Hasn't worked as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL in mid-November 2014
Leading up to the opening game of 2014, I wrote that a matchup against the Clemson front seven might end up being the most stern test of Gurley's season. Sure, the SEC is known for stout, physical fronts, but the Tigers possessed one of the best, and deepest, groups in the country. Vic Beasley. Grady Jarrett. Stephone Anthony. Those are three players that reside in my Top 100. Moreover, Gurley had an up and down season in 2013, in large part due to nagging injuries, so this was the best way to put a stamp on the start of his junior season.
All he did that night was run for 198 yards on only 15 carries and three TD. Yep, you read that right 198 on 15 - that's over 13 yards per carry. Oh, lest I forget the 100-yard kick return he had in the middle of the second quarter. To put that performance in perspective, Clemson didn't yield another 100-yd rushing performance until Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine ran for 134 yards in a 40-6 Clemson route. In a bowl game. In late December. 11 games later.
A suspension for, allegedly, taking money for autographs set him back for three games and in his return v. Auburn, he piled up 138 yards on 29 carries before tearing his ACL.
Luckily, we've seen running backs return from torn ACLs to run for thousands of yards and even set team/league records. In 2012, Minnesota Viking star RB Adrian Peterson had the best year of his NFL career after tearing his ACL in November 2011. But, the mystery of how a draft eligible player will return may scare some teams away. Back on May 27, 2014 when I released my first Draft Eligible Player Board, I said that Gurley was the closest thing to Peterson that we've seen in a while. There are stylistic differences but when it comes to being THE guy who physically punishes defenses regularly with the speed to sprint past them too...that's Peterson. It's Gurley, too.
A healthy Gurley, of course.
"He's the best back in the draft" - UGA head coach Mark Richt
"I still think if I'm an NFL team and I'm looking at Gurley, I'm going to say, you know what, the guy might have done this things - which I don't know how much they care that he got some money to sign some autographs or not - but I think they care about his character and they care about what kind of person he is. As far as just, you know, if you make a mistake, you know 'fess up to it. He did and I'm proud of him" - Richt
What to like
--Gets his shoulders square immediately when he's headed for the edge
--As such, he's able to deliver a flipper or stiff arm, on balance, if necessary
--Speed. Whoa - he blows up angles when he opens it up too.
--Angry runner...so very angry - takes offense to people trying to tackle him.
--Most impressive aspect of his kickoff return TD v. Clemson was when a DB tried to jump on his back in the end zone. It's a tackle that often takes down a RB as the DB lands on his legs and crumbles the RB in a heap. Gurley just swatted him down like he was a gnat. Wow.
--Finds cut-up holes with good vision
--Light on his feet, explosive after the cut.
--Accelerates through first contact
--Balance and strength are overwhelmingly evident
--Never thinks a run is over
--Against South Carolina, first play of the game, he faked a run, then saw a 300 lb DT breaking free - he took him on and kept his QB from a turn on his wallet - very impressive
What needs some work
--It's an effective style, but it's a punishing style...for Gurley as well
--Takes a hit nearly every play - he seeks it out at times
--How much tread will the tires have on them running that way?
--Pass protection, in total, but that's not unusual.
--Never thinks a run is over - got hurt v. LSU in 2013 trying to get a few more yards on sideline when he could've jumped out of bounds and lived to see another down
--Hot-headed at times - got in a skirmish with Florida in 2013, head butted a South Carolina defender in 2014 (refs missed that one)
--Not a ton of work in the zone game - plenty of toss and iso out of two backs
--Success by freshman RB Nick Chubb raises questions about his success being OL-driven v. being produced by Gurley.
Based solely on the football player, Gurley is on a different level completely. A torn ACL has been proven to NOT be the death knell for any player, much less a running back. But, teams can talk themselves out of a player whose impact immediately is quelled or stunted for any reason. That said, he's instant impact when he eventually arrives on the field. Seemingly, teams in the top ten to 15 need impact right now, whereas a handful of playoff teams drafting in the 20s have the luxury, in some sense, of not needing Gurley to carry the stone 25 times Game One in early September. But, by December, the former Dawg running back will make a statement and teams will rue passing on him, especially those looking to establish an identity in the running game.
Take a look at Todd Gurley's football career at Georgia.