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AFC exec says Melvin Gordon 'just a runner,' prefers T.J. Yeldon

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Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Georgia's Todd Gurley are widely considered the top two running backs available in the 2015 NFL Draft, but scouting analysis and the consensus forged by draft experts doesn't always align. For at least two NFL scouts, Gordon isn't on that pedestal. An AFC personnel executive prefers Alabama's T.J. Yeldon over Gordon, according to jsonline.com.

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"The team that wants more of an all-around player will take Yeldon because he can do more in the passing game than Gordon," the executive said. "Gordon's always been subbed out in passing situations. He's just a runner."

Gurley and Gordon are believed to have a chance to become the first running backs chosen in the first round of the draft since 2012, as the value of the position has shown a draft-day decline in recent years. NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock has given both a first-round grade, and both are in the top 15 of analyst Daniel Jeremiah's latest top-50 rankings.

Yeldon (6-foot-2, 221 pounds), who has been projected as a second- to third-round pick, would do well to be picked ahead of Gordon. In fact, a different scout suggested Yeldon is overrated just last week, and cast him as an NFL backup.

Yeldon averaged more than 1,000 yards over three seasons at Alabama, despite nagging injuries that hobbled him at times in his career. He entered the draft early as a junior. He was a reliable receiver and also the team's most consistent running back in the area of pass protection in the Crimson Tide's pro-style offense. Gordon's rushing statistics were far more prolific than Yeldon's, but Gordon's role as a receiver was limited and he told jsonline.com that he returned to Wisconsin last year in part to improve his ability to pick up blitzes.

Nevertheless, Gordon's game -- particularly given the way Wisconsin running backs have struggled in the NFL in the past -- remains under scrutiny.

"I'm not buying into all the hype. When he hits it right it's a big play, but he's not real instinctive and he's not a great catcher," said the other scout who prefers Yeldon. "I don't think he's smart enough to do the blitz pickup stuff. Someone will take him because he's a big guy. ... He's not going to be on the field on the most important downs."

By contrast, Yeldon has been trusted to play on third down at Alabama since his freshman year. In the NFL, detractors say, that might be all he does.

But if Yeldon is drafted ahead of Gordon, the club that takes Yeldon will be expecting a lot more help than that.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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