Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who will soon learn if he has won the Heisman Trophy, has piled up 2,336 yards this season. But for one NFL scout, the speed of the defenses in the Big Ten Conference didn't do much to stop him.
"He's good against those slow-(expletive) Big Ten guys," the scout told The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "It (the Big Ten) is terrible. That's what bothers me a little bit."
Fair or not, overall team speed has been the root criticism of Big Ten football for many years. And of late, it hasn't helped the league's reputation that two of its traditional powers -- Michigan and Penn State -- are nowhere near the top of the standings. Gordon ran for no fewer than 122 yards against any team on Wisconsin's Big Ten regular-season schedule, though Ohio State held him to 76 yards in the Big Ten Championship Game. Another scout's assessment of Gordon reiterates why running backs have been absent from the first round of the NFL draft for two consecutive years.
"I know he makes a lot of yards but I don't think he's special," the scout told the Journal-Sentinel. "I don't think he runs with good pad level or contact balance. He's got good straight-line speed. I don't think his vision is outstanding. He'll try to be a slasher at times, but he goes down pretty easily."
Gordon is one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, along with Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Alabama's Amari Cooper. With 164 yards against Auburn in the Outback Bowl, Gordon would reach 2,500 for the season.