This is the third of a position-by-position look at the best tandems of NFL prospects in the SEC this season. We veered away from superstars and their sidekicks, instead looking to highlight truly strong pairs where the headliner and the supporting role are harder to distinguish, and where a pro career is most promising for both. High-level production last season was a must.
Running backs: Georgia's Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall
Gurley exploded onto the SEC scene as a true freshman last season, rushing 222 times for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs to the SEC East title. He runs with brutal downhill power between the tackles, and at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, he can handle the pounding that goes along with that. At times he runs a bit too upright, but will learn to play with more forward lean as he gains experience. Still, he leaned on Alabama's vaunted defense pretty effectively in the SEC title game. Gurley won't hear his name called for the NFL until 2015 (if he leaves after his junior year) or 2016. As long as he stays healthy, however, that day coming is a given. He's already rated the No. 15 prospect in the nation by NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, who also named Gurley one of the five most athletic players in the nation.
Marshall (5-11, 219) is a preseason candidate for the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back, in spite of the fact that he wasn't even the top back on his own team last year. Nevertheless, he posted a stellar freshman season with the Bulldogs, rushing for 759 yards in just 117 carries (better than Gurley at 6.5 yards per carry). He runs with a low center of gravity and stays under control through the hole, yet shows plenty of explosiveness, having torched rival Tennessee for 164 yards. Like Gurley, Marshall doesn't project for an NFL draft until 2015 or 2016, depending on whether he turns pro early. NFL clubs will also like the fact that Georgia is keeping mileage on his legs low. As Gurley's support man, Marshall's season high for carries last year was just 12.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.