Has great straight-line speed to pull away from defenders
Shiftiness; will juke defenders
Willing blocker in blitz pickup, has potential to be very good
Hard-nosed runner between the tackles
Has a nose for the end zone
Wears down defenses
Runs well in the second half
Perfect fit for a zone-blocking system
Perfect fit for a man-blocking system
Already had one ACL tear
Can run a little upright
Will need development as a blocker
Summary: If it weren't for the knee injury, Todd Gurley would be my first- or second-ranked player in the 2015 NFL Draft with Jameis Winston being the only other player I would consider ranking ahead of Gurley. In speaking with sources, they agree that those two are the most talented football players in the 2015 NFL Draft. Gurley could be even more physically gifted and rare, but the importance of a quarterback would lean toward Winston being ranked No. 1. In my opinion. Gurley is the best running back to enter the NFL since Adrian Peterson in 2007.
Gurley burst onto the scene in the SEC during 2012. He had a superb debut to lead the Bulldogs' ground game as he averaged 6.2 yards per carry for 1,385 yards with 17 touchdowns. In the SEC Championship, the freshman ran for 122 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns against Alabama's tough defense that won the National Championship.
Gurley was awesome when healthy in 2013. The sophomore averaged six yards per carry for 989 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also had 30 receptions for 344 yards and five touchdowns.
In 2014, Gurley started the season well by destroying a very good Clemson defense. He finished that game with 198 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns rushing to go along with a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown. Gurley was later suspended for four games for signing autographs. Sources with multiple teams told WalterFootball.com that the suspension won't hurt Gurley's draft stock. They say that this is more tyrannical NCAA nonsense. League contacts say their character reports on Gurley are strong. They say he's a good kid who loves football.
Gurley's 2014 season ended early in his return to the field against Auburn, which had seen him quickly pick up where he left off. The junior ran for 128 yards on 29 carries with a touchdown. He also returned a kickoff for a touchdown, but it was called back on a penalty. Even though Georgia was up 27-7 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Gurley was still in the game running between the tackles and while being tackled, he tore an ACL. In 2014, Gurley averaged 7.4 yards for 911 yards with nine touchdowns. He had 12 receptions for 57 yards.
As a player, Gurley is the real deal. He is very fast with a burst to hole and a second gear in the open field to take the ball the distance. Gurley has rare acceleration and takes away angles from defenders with his pure speed. While he is a fast back, he also is a power back who can run through tackles and bulldoze defenders trying to tackle him. Gurley is tough to stop in short-yardage situations and on the goal line. He owns a perfect combination of speed and power.
Gurley also has special teams skills and is a dangerous kick returner. With his big-play ability and physical power, he is an intimidating running back who can wear down defenses physically and mentally. Evaluators believe that Gurley also is a quality receiver and will be a true three-down running back. He has good hands and the athleticism to run routes. As a pass-blocker, Gurley needs work, like all young players coming into the NFL.
Sources across the NFL believe that if Gurley returns to his pre-injury form and stays healthy, he'll become one of the best running backs in the NFL and could be a star runner similar to Peterson or Marshall Faulk.
In the 2015 NFL Draft, Gurley is worthy of being selected in the top 20 even with the knee injury.
Player Comparison: Marshawn Lynch. In terms of Gurley's running style, the closest comparison is Lynch. Both have power and speed, and are difference-makers who can carry an offense. I think Gurley is faster while Lynch may have a bit more power to him. Lynch was the 12th-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, and Gurley could go in the same general area this year.
NFL Matches: New York Jets, Minnesota, Houston, San Diego, Detroit, New England
There are a lot of franchises that could take Gurley even though they don't have a huge need at the position because he is an electric play-maker who teams are in love with.
The highest that Gurley could possibly go is to the Jets with the No. 6 pick. They need a feature runner and have filled most of their needs in free agency. Gurley would be a difference-maker for Geno Smith.
The Vikings could use a running back to pair with Jerick McKinnon for the future. If Minnesota were to bring back Adrian Peterson, drafting Gurley wouldn't be necessary, but Gurley would still be a nice weapon for Norv Turner and would help give Teddy Bridgewater better looks in the passing game.
Most people don't project the Texans to take a running back early in the 2015 NFL Draft, but Houston could be stuck without an appropriate talent to fill a need like wide receiver or inside linebacker. The Texans' offense is dependent on a running game but Arian Foster is aging and has gotten hurt every season. Gurley could be the long-term starter and extend Foster's career effectiveness. In Year 1, they could combine to form a great duo while Gurley works himself back into health.
Picking right after Houston is San Diego. The Chargers have to replace Ryan Mathews, and Gurley would be a huge addition for Phillip Rivers. San Diego needs a feature back to power its offense, and Gurley would be an immediate upgrade to the Chargers' offense.
Staying in the NFC North, the Lions could use a feature back and fielded one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL in 2014. Reggie Bush is gone, while Joique Bell is just a backup. With safeties playing back to defend Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Matthew Stafford, having a runner like Gurley to exploit those seven-man fronts could be devastating for Detroit. Gurley would be a great fit with the Lions and has taken a pre-draft visit with them.
Another team that could be a candidate for Gurley is New England. The Patriots would have to trade up to get him, but they could use another back to pair with LeGarrette Blount. A back like Gurley could help Tom Brady with easy third-down situations.