When it comes to running back prospects, there might not be a featured back in the 2015 class with more potential than Georgia’s Todd Gurley.
Gurley, who has been a starter since his freshman season, is a powerful, yet agile back who has the prototypical size for a workhorse back at the next level (6’1”, 232 pounds.)
Paired with running mate Keith Marshall, Gurley is going to be a huge contributor on a Georgia offense that is going to use a heavy dose of the run.
Gurley’s biggest strength is his ability to run between the tackles.
His pad level gets a little high at times, but his balance and control while maneuvering through the offensive line is by far the best of any back in the class (or last year’s class, for that matter).
Gurley hits the hole in a hurry and constantly keeps his legs moving, allowing him to overpower defenders and pick up extra yards like on this run.
On the play, which is a designed rush through the right A-gap, the Georgia offensive line opens up a running lane that is about three yards wide with about 10 yards of open field in front of him.
Gurley hits the hole quickly and, with Auburn’s free safety quickly closing in to make a stop, Gurley swiftly (and seemingly effortlessly) changes his direction and continues the run upfield.
Once Auburn defensive back Jermaine Whitehead attempts to wrap him up short of the first-down marker, Gurley continues to keep his legs moving, carrying Whitehead for five yards, all while gaining a first down.
For a big back, Gurley is surprisingly agile. For an example, take a look at this run against Florida.
With no visible running lane on the left side of the line (where the play is designed to be run), Gurley quickly spots a hole in the right B-gap and uses a quick change of direction for a big gain.
As impressive as he is on the ground, Gurley’s impact isn’t limited to just the running game.
Last season, he proved to be a reliable weapon through the air—especially on third downs, especially here against Florida.
On the play, Gurley does a quick slant to the middle of the field, beating Dante Fowler (who was blitzing and failed to recognize Gurley was running a route and not blocking) to the inside and taking off for a 73-yard touchdown.
Also, he has shown the ability to pick up key blocks, like here against Auburn.
Through 20 collegiate games, Gurley already has 387 carries under his belt. And, assuming he stays healthy and Georgia makes a bowl game, he will have another 200 attempts by the time he receives the opportunity to declare for the NFL draft.
There is no doubt he has the ability to be a successful featured back at the next level, but in today’s NFL, running backs have a very short lifespan–especially guys with this much mileage on their legs before they even play a professional snap.
He missed three games last season after appearing in all 13 games as a freshman. It wasn’t due to a serious injury, but his health will be something to watch.
He doesn’t really have any glaring weaknesses in his game, but it would be nice to see his vision improve and for him to keep his pad level a little lower at times.
Gurley is the ideal NFL running back. His combination of size, strength, speed, ability to run between the tackles and contributions in the passing game make him the best running back prospect that this draft has to offer.
With another productive and healthy season, look for Gurley to be the player who ends the two-year drought of running backs taken on Day 1 of the NFL draft, and he could become one of the best at his position in the NFL.