|Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon returns in 2014 as one of college football's top running backs.|
CHICAGO -- Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon is feeling a bit underappreciated by the NFL right now, but he doesn't suspect he'll be feeling that way much longer.
The Badgers' star running back has seen two NFL drafts go by without an RB selected in the first round. Earlier this year, Washington's Bishop Sankey became the first rusher picked when the Titans drafted him 54th overall -- the latest the first RB selected has ever come off the board.
Can Gordon, one of the top backs in college football, be the one that ends the streak?
"Yeah. And I think it's not just me. There are some guys in this class coming up that can definitely break that," Gordon said Monday at Big Ten Media Days. "You got some great backs. You got (Nebraska's) Ameer (Abdullah), you got (Miami's) Duke Johnson. ... (Georgia's) Todd Gurley. You got all these guys. (South Carolina's) Mike Davis. And that's not even naming some of the backs across the country that could change that. I definitely think we can. Underappreciated right now. It happens, but it also can change."
There was some talk heading into the 2014 draft that Gordon, who still has two seasons of eligibility remaining, would have been the first back selected had he declared. He said he had no regrets about returning to Wisconsin and that his mind is on fall camp now, but admitted that his decision was on his mind as he watched the '14 draft play out.
"Regret? No. Was I thinking about it? Yeah," Gordon said. "Especially ... I'm a big fan of NFL Network. I had quite a few friends in the draft. I watched it all the time. You can't but think about 'What would it be like if I was in that situation? What would it be like if I was there with those guys?'
"I definitely thought about it then. Now? No, because I have to get ready for the season."
Gordon shared time at running back last season with James White, a fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots earlier this year, and still rushed for 1,609 yards -- 10th-most in the country and second in the Big Ten -- although his production declined in the second half of the season.
Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen seemed to agree Monday with those that think Gordon would have had high value in the 2014 draft, but also sees a chance for him to strengthen his stock, should he decide to enter the '15 draft -- something Gordon would drop no hints about on Monday.
"I think Melvin will be a tremendous NFL player as he continues to grow and develop. He could have been in a year ago and probably done some good things and got drafted to play at a high level," Andersen said. "That is Melvin's goal and he's going to get that opportunity, but he's got a lot to do before he gets to there and he's excited about the moment he's in right now."
As a top Heisman contender and the feature back for a team with a proud tradition at the position, there's certainly plenty for Gordon to like about that moment.