Instant Debate

Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell among NFL's most explosive running backs

Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley is already making an impact in the NFL. NFL Media analyst -- and former Rams star and Hall of Famer -- Marshall Faulk has the exclusive interview. "Who is Todd Gurley?" will debut this Sunday on "NFL Gameday Morning" at 9 a.m. ET on NFL Network.

On Sunday against Cleveland, Todd Gurley became the first rookie to rush for 125-plus yards in each of his first three NFL starts since Cadillac Williams did it in 2005. In other words, the St. Louis Rams back, whose career was slightly delayed as he recovered from last November's ACL tear, has wasted no time since cracking the starting lineup in Week 4.

Gurley also has racked up six runs of 20-plus yards, and he has three of 40-plus (which is tied for the most in the NFL). But he's obviously not the only back banging out big plays. Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell -- who has three 100-yard games this season -- leads the league with eight runs of 20-plus yards, while Minnesota's Adrian Peterson -- who had a breakout 75-yard run in the Vikings' win over Detroit on Sunday -- has matched Gurley with three runs of 40-plus yards. And don't forget about Atlanta's Devonta Freeman, the league's leading rusher after seven weeks.

After watching monstrous gain after monstrous gain, who is the most explosive running back in the league through Week 7?

Right now, it's Todd Gurley. No one is hotter than him, and he's only going to get better as he gets healthier. I also like the way he's running in the fourth quarter, because he's getting stronger as the game goes on. You've got to be in tremendous shape to put up some of your best runs in the fourth quarter. As a running back, you want to be getting stronger late in the game. Le'Veon Bell, but it's not that he's just explosive. He's explosive on all three downs. He has the ability to take simple plays and make them big gains, and that's a commonality for him. I'm going to have to say Todd Gurley. I love Le'Veon Bell, and Lamar Miller is doing well, but Gurley, with his size (6-foot-1, 227 pounds) and speed, is hard to beat. He's changed the Rams' franchise this year.

Every so often, you get a talent that can be really good in the right system, and that is what's happening in St. Louis. I don't think Gurley will hit a wall, because he didn't play the first two weeks and only had six carries in Week 3, which means he'll be playing about the same amount of games that one would in college. I just think his speed, vision, football IQ and determination to get things going are all things that are hard to teach. Those things set him apart right now from a lot of other players. Le'Veon Bell -- and it's not even close. But it's not just his rare combination of power, speed and elusiveness once the ball is in his hands -- it's how the ball gets there in the first place. He can run out of any formation (I, single-back, shotgun, etc.) with any personnel package (four-wide, two-tight, two-back, etc.). He can line up as a receiver, and if not for the name and number on his back, you'd think you were actually watching a wideout run the route and catch the pass. Outside of a quarterback, you'd be hard-pressed to convince me there's a better player to build your franchise around than Le'Veon Bell. Adrian Peterson is, without a doubt, the most explosive running back in the league. He had two runs against the Lions that no one else in the league could put together. On his first impressive run of the day, in the first quarter, he made about three jaw-dropping moves. Most people can't do one move, let alone three in the same play.

A few other guys who are right up there with Peterson are Le'Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles, who shouldn't be left out of the conversation, though he will, of course, miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Devonta Freeman came out of nowhere, and he's just dynamite in the run game and the pass game. Now, Atlanta didn't play all that great on Sunday, but Freeman has really caught my eye this year. Here's this little guy (5-8, 206 pounds) out of Florida State, and he wasn't even starting in Week 1. He runs bigger than he is. He's physical, tough and finishes runs.

We expected Adrian Peterson to be good, and we expected Matt Forte and other good guys to get a lot of scrimmage yards, but Freeman is better than I expected. I know Todd Gurley has only played in a few games, but you want to talk about explosion? There's a reason why he was drafted 10th overall by the Rams after coming off an ACL injury. He's not running like a rookie. He can go sideline to sideline, but when he decides to put either foot in the ground and head north, he does it better than any back in the league. He's just getting started, and I'm excited to see what he does the rest of the season.

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