A Scout's Take on Melvin Gordon's Draft Status and His Future in the NFL

Bob FoxContributor IFebruary 11, 2015

Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon (25) on his way to a 53-yard touchdown during the third quarter of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

What a finish! Running back Melvin Gordon concluded his fantastic career with the Wisconsin Badgers with the best rushing performance in the history of the Outback Bowl.

Gordon ran for 251 yards and three touchdowns as the Badgers beat the Auburn Tigers 34-31 in overtime at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on New Year's Day.

I was on hand with my son Andrew to witness Gordon being named the game's MVP.

Coincidentally, I was also at another bowl game in Tampa when Terrell Fletcher of Wisconsin rushed for 241 yards in the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl, which was the rushing record for the bowl until Gordon broke that mark.

The Badgers beat the Duke Blue Devils 34-20 that day at old Tampa Stadium. The bowl game was changed to the Outback Bowl the very next year.

The performance in the Outback Bowl was an exclamation point to Gordon's superb 2014 season. Gordon rushed for 2,587 yards and had 29 rushing touchdowns.

The rushing yardage was the second-best mark in FBS history. Only Barry Sanders rushed for more yardage in a season (2,628 yards).

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Gordon's best performance of the season came against Nebraska, when he rushed for 408 yards. No. 25 did that on just 25 carries, plus he scored four touchdowns. That performance broke the all-time FBS record of LaDainian Tomlinson, who had rushed for 406 yards in a game in 1999.

Unbelievably, Gordon's mark lasted only a week, as Samaje Perine of Oklahoma rushed for 427 yards the very next Saturday.

Gordon was also a threat in the passing game. He had 19 receptions for 153 yards and three more scores in 2014.

For his career as a Badger, Gordon rushed for 4,915 yards and had 45 touchdowns. Gordon also had a phenomenal 7.8 yards-per-carry average in his career.

Gordon was rewarded for his efforts this season by winning the 2014 Doak Walker Award and also being named 2014 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Gordon was obviously a consensus All-Big Ten first-team running back as well as a unanimous first-team All-American at the position.

John Raoux/Associated Press

On December 10, Gordon decided to to forgo his final year of college eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL draft.

I've been checking to see where some draft "experts" had Gordon being selected, and I'm very surprised at the results I have found in some cases.

For instance, just look at the recent mock drafts put out by Rob Rang, Dane Brugler and Pat Kirwan of CBSSports.com.

Rang projected Gordon would be selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 29th pick in the first round. Both Brugler and Kirwan don't have Gordon being selected at all in the first round.

I was completely perplexed by the mock drafts of both Brugler and Kirwan. I can't believe anyone would actually think that Gordon will not be selected in the first round with all of his talent and game-changing ability.

That is why I wanted to get a professional opinion about Gordon from one of the best in the business, scout Chris Landry.

I was able to talk to Landry last Friday on 620 WDAE's Steve Duemig Show, which was guest hosted by Todd Wright.

I wanted to get Landry's take on Gordon's status in the 2015 NFL draft, as well as his future in the NFL.

"I think he's going to go in the first round, " Landry said. "I think he is just unique. To me, he's got so many of the qualities of Jamaal Charles, who right now is one of the elite backs, what we call blue-graded players.

"That's the elite players in the league. The difference-makers in big-time games. This is what this guy can be. He's a fearless runner. He's got good size. He's an absolutely violent jump-cutter. I mean this guy will just break or sprain ankles around the league because this guy is physical enough and explosive enough to run through contact and run away from people.

"He's got vision. He's got patience. He's competitive. He's great as a route-runner. He's a speed back with size who has great quickness and who is a perfect fit for the run game. As great as he's been in college, he's got a chance to be even a better fit in the NFL.

"He can be a factor in the passing game. Listen, I think anybody that wants to use a difference-maker is going to take this guy."

So why, then, do some mocks drafts have Gordon going so late in the first round or not being selected at all in round No. 1?

"The big thing on where a guy goes [in the first round], listen, the quarterbacks are going to go a little bit higher, " Landry said. "There are only two who are top-notch. There's a big drop-off after those two. You need to get your pass-rusher. You need to get your [offensive] tackle. Those guys are over-valued.

"There are not 10 players in this draft who are better than Melvin Gordon. But because there are a number of good backs that you can get later, that's going to push his value down a little bit.

"I don't know. I'm not ready to sit here and say he's going to go 12th, 15th or 25th, I don't know. I just know that somebody who gets him is going to get a difference-making player and we'll see how it has to flip off on draft day.

"But it's going to be in the first round. Mid-to-late, I would think."

Morry Gash/Associated Press

I then asked how the Colts would feel if they were actually able to select Gordon, with Andrew Luck and company looking for a game-changer at running back.

"I think a number of people would be interested," Landry said. "The only variable is not going to be about what they don't like about him [Gordon], but do they feel that they have to get their pass-rusher, their offensive tackle, their defensive tackle, or their corner that is tougher to get later than maybe getting a good back. You might be able to get those guys [running backs] a little bit later.

"But Melvin Gordon is special. And I think he's going to be a huge impact for somebody."

I agree with Landry. The NFL game has changed over the years. The league has become pass-happy, with quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Luck leading the way. Running backs don't have the same value in the draft that they once had.

It's extremely rare to see a running back taken in the first part of round one in the draft. At least that has been the case recently.

But just look at the Green Bay Packers since they drafted running back Eddie Lacy in 2013. Lacy was supposed to be the first running back taken in the 2013 NFL draft and he was slated to go late in the first round.

Lacy was not the first running back selected. He lasted until pick No. 61 in the second round when the Packers finally selected him.

Lacy ended up being the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. He completely changed the offensive dynamic of the Packers, both in his rookie year and his second season in the NFL.

I see Gordon doing the same thing for some team who is fortunate enough to select him in the 2015 NFL draft.

And like Landry, I agree that will happen in the first round for some lucky NFL team who will be blessed by the addition of Gordon.


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