Were it not for a rash of injuries throughout his collegiate career, most notably a torn ACL in November of 2014, former Georgia running back Todd Gurley would likely be the consensus No. 1 running back prospect in the 2015 NFL Draft. Some GMs might be wary of his injury history, but if he falls in the draft should fantasy owners worry as well? Or should they bank on his all-world talent as a running back? I went to the tape to see what I could find out.
» Great acceleration, top-end speed
» Excellent vision
» Powerful, fluid runner
» Impeccable balance
Watching Gurley's tape, he checks all of the boxes for an ideal NFL running back. Vision, speed, power, balance, soft hands, big body, etc. He's the total package. Gurley is one of the true home-run threats in this draft class, and it seems like it takes him all of two steps to reach his top speed. When defenders do get their hands on him, he rarely goes down on first contact. He showcased excellent balance both in getting through the line of scrimmage and bouncing off of contact in the open field.
It's not just Gurley's speed that has him atop most NFL draft boards at his position. He does all of the little things well, too. He has great feet for jump cuts and can start and stop on a dime. He shows patience behind his blockers and great vision when driving through the hole or spying a cutback lane. He has room to improve in each of those areas, but at least has the foundation so he can make an instant impact in the NFL.
» Injury history a concern
» Not as comfortable as a zone runner
» Might look for cutbacks too often
» Could improve how he strings moves together
All signs point to Gurley making a full recovery from his November ACL tear, and as we've seen more and more recently an ACL tear isn't what it used to be. However, ankle injuries in high school and college might give teams pause when thinking about calling Gurley's name on draft day.
The other notes listed above are nitpicks. Gurley's game is pretty solid and he has the look of an NFL running back. The gripes above like looking for cutbacks too often and stringing moves together could be easily ironed out in the pros.
Ideal NFL fantasy fits
The Cowboys brass claim they aren't drafting a running back early, but if Gurley falls to them at 27, could they really pass him up? Of course, for Gurley to fall that far he'd have to get past both San Diego (No. 17) and Baltimore (No. 26), both of which need a feature running back and Gurley fits the bill. It'd be great to see him fall into any of these situations with a quarterback and solid offensive line in front of him.
Early fantasy draft projection
Gurley is the best running back prospect in the draft. The only real obstacles that could hold him back from instant fantasy success would be injuries or landing in a terrible situation (i.e. bad line, timeshare, all of the above). Let's pray to the fantasy gods that Gurley lands with one of the teams above, or even in Arizona, as he would merit mid-round consideration as a true featured running back. Dynasty-wise, Gurley needs to come off the board with one of the first picks in all rookie drafts, as he has the potential to be a special talent in the fantasy realm.