Running backs, after several seasons of receiving no love in the early rounds of the NFL Draft, are back in vogue. The Seahawks with Lynch and other teams have recently shown what a punishing, high-motor back can bring to an offense.
NFL Defenses in recent years have been stocking up and strategizing to defend the pass and have chosen to forego stopping the run. NFL offenses have gotten the message and adjusted. The rumors of the death of the running back position at the professional level are premature.
In the NFL Draft next week, teams will be looking for that banger, that neutralizing player to pound the ball for them. That Lynch, Eddie Lacy, LeGarrette Blount, LeVeon Bell-type. The Giants are no different.
Last year, they got a fine inside, short-yardage runner in Boston College's Andre Williams. But he doesn't have the dimensions in his game like those others do. Rashad Jennings is big, and can be physical, but he has shown to be injury-prone and unreliable.
With the 9th overall pick, the Giants could have their pick of the lot with this year's talented RB crop. The name that has bubbled to the top, and quickly, is Georgia's Todd Gurley.
Gurley ia 6'1" and around 230lbs. He is a perfect combination of size and speed with high motor and innate toughness. There is not one team in the NFL that would say no to having him in their backfield. Why? Because he is possibly the next-level prototype of NFL running backs. Uniqueness is the key here.
Throughout the pre-draft process, Gurley has been somewhat of an outlier. Teams have not been able to get an honest take on him. As a junior at Georgia, Gurley missed three games due to an ankle injury. As a senior, he was suspended for NCAA violations four games in the middle of the season. When he returned vs Auburn in November, he tore his ACL, ending his season.
In those six games, Gurley teased scouts by rushing 123 times for 911 yards - a 7.4 YPC average. He has kept NFL scouts in the dark ever since. But imaginations have been running wild. Gurley did not run at the combine and did not participate in his pro day at Georgia. The highlight reels, which are amazing btw, are all scouts have to go on.
A recent medical recheck of Gurley's injuries resulted in a green light from doctors, eliminating some doubts and jettisoning his draft stock back up into Top-10 status. At No. 9, the Giants will have to take a good, long look at Gurley and, given their recent RB woes, probably pull the trigger.
But nothing these days happens in a vacuum. The eight teams in front of them are all fully aware of Gurley's rise. It seems likely now that one of the six who do not take QBs, will grab him long before Roger Goodell says, "he New York Giants are on the clock...". The Jets, if they can't broker a deal for QB Marcus Mariota, are likely to take Gurley over Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon at this point. That's if they are going RB in Round One.
It's a bit of a shame, but then again, it's not. Gurley's re-entrance back into the Top-10 means another top talent trickles down the order for the Giants to choose from, including him.
Here's how it can go next Thursday...
1. Tampa Bay - QB Jameis Winston, FSU
2. San Diego (from Tennessee) - QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
3. Jacksonville - DE Dante Fowler, Florida
4. Oakland - DT Leonard Williams, USC
5. Washington - DE Vic Beasley, Clemson
6. Jets - WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
7. Chicago - WR Kevin White, West Virginia
8. Atlanta - DE Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
9. Giants - RB Todd Gurley, Georgia