2014-12-27 09:50:151 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Georgia RB Todd Gurley has scored 44 TDs in his college career. (Image Source: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Following Friday’s practice in North Carolina, were the Georgia Bulldogs are preparing to play the Louisville Cardinals in the Belk Bowl next week, head coach Mark Richt informed the media that star running back Todd Gurley has decided to forgo his final season at the SEC school in order to enter the 2015 NFL Draft.
"He will be a very high draft pick," said Richt. "I wouldn't be shocked to see him doing a lot of things for the scouts before the draft."
His Stats: When healthy, Gurley is one of college football’s most productive running backs. As a true freshman, the Bulldog rushed for 1,385 yards and 17 TDs, while averaging 6.2 yards per carry in 2012. His numbers dipped as sophomore to 989 yards and 10 TDs, as Gurley missed three full games with an ankle injury. However, he did become a much bigger part of the passing game with 35 receptions for 441 yards, six scores and a very impressive 11.9 YPC average. This season, Gurley was limited to six games due to suspension (missed four games) and injury (tore ACL in UGA’s tenth game against Auburn) yet he still managed to rush for 911 yards and nine scores with a whopping 7.4 YPC average. In limited duty as a returner, seven as a freshman and four this season, Gurley managed two 100-yard kickoff returns for TDs.
Why He Should Go to the NFL: He’s an elite talent and a dynamic weapon with the ball in his hands. Gurley has all the physical tools, a top-notch frame (6’1”/226 pounds) with breakaway speed. As a football player he has nothing to prove at the college level. Gurley often looked like a man among boys. He’s already had a run-in with the NCAA and there’s no reason to risk further injury by coming back to school.
Why He Should Come Back to College: Because he is coming off an ACL tear and it’s unclear just how healthy he will be by draft day it’s possible Gurley will go significantly lower than his talent level warrants. You can make a case that if Gurley were to come back for his senior season and play a full 12-game schedule he could elevate himself into a high first-round pick, potentially cracking the top 10 of the 2016 NFL Draft.
What They’re Saying: According to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr., Gurley is the No. 2 running back in this class and he should expect to hear his name called by early in the second round. Kiper’s colleague Todd McShay has the Seattle Seahawks selecting Gurley with the 29th pick in his first Mock Draft. CBSSports.com also has Gurley rated as the second back in this class, 30th overall, while projecting him to go in the first-to-second round range.
Mogollon’s Take: While I believe Gurley is undervalued because of his durability concerns—which is really the only knock on his game—as well as the fact that the running back position has been devalued in general, he is making the right decision by leaving. Coming back and risking further injury is simply not worth it. Besides, if there is any underclassman that is ready for the NFL right now it’s Gurley. He’s blessed with elite size and speed, ready to step in start in an NFL backfield where he can be an All-Pro caliber runner if he gets back to 100 percent. Gurley can also contribute as a receiver and a return man. If he’s healthy, the UGA product is arguably the most talented back to come out of college since Adrian Peterson was made the seventh overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings coming out of Oklahoma.
NFL Fit: Late in the first round several clubs could be in the market for a feature back especially if they decide to move on from their incumbent runners including the Dallas Cowboys (DeMarco Murray), New England Patriots (Stevan Ridley) and Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch). Gurley could be a young, relatively inexpensive replacement should Dallas decide not to pony up for Murray or if Seattle ends up parting ways with Lynch as was rumored during the season. You can make a case that teams like the Arizona Cardinals (last in NFL in YPC, 3.3) and Detroit Lions (30th in YPC, 3.5) would benefit from adding a big bruising feature back that can run between the tackles. Most of the teams picking towards the top of the second round need a lot of help. One in particular that could target a runner like Gurley with their second choice is the Jacksonville Jaguars where the Georgia man could provide the thunder to Dennard Robinson’s lightning. Tampa Bay and Tennessee had two of the league’s weakest running games and the Minnesota Vikings are expected to be looking for a replacement for the aforementioned Peterson.
NFL Draft Links:
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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