Will Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon Be A 1st Round Pick 2015?
By Bill Lund
The state of the RB position in the NFL draft has deteriorated from the priority lists of NFL execs the past two years. Whatever the impetus for the decline in draft value, no running backs were selected in the 1st round in 2013 and 2014. The last time a RB was selected in the 1st round was in 2012 when Trent Richardson (3rd pick Browns), Doug Martin (31st Pick Tampa Bay) and David Wilson (32nd Pick Giants) all made the cut. Richardson had a breakout rookie season in 2012 only to be traded to the Colts and has been trying to regain his form ever since. Martin was a workhouse in 2012 for the Bucs, but went on injured reserved in 2013 with a torn labrum. Wilson was in Coughlin’s dog horse early in 2012 for the Giants and has yet to establish himself.
In this day and age of the draft, teams are looking for value, versatility and explosive play making ability. LeSean McCoy and Adrian Peterson are the two best and most explosive RB’s in the NFL today, and only Peterson was a 1st round selection. Much of the decline in the importance of the RB position can be traced to teams relying on throwing the ball more, the success of teams drafting capable ball carriers in later rounds, and the high rate of injury that occurs playing the position.
The 2014 Season has a great crop of front line ball carriers, but only one RB has the best opportunity to be selected in the 1st round. He may be the closest thing to Adrian Peterson since 2007. His name, Melvin Gordon III.
The Debate for taking Gordon in Round 1
Some analysts have looked to Georgia’s Todd Gurley as the #1 back, but his style isn’t nearly as explosive as Gordon's and he has a history of injuries will surely outweigh his value. Gordon possess the rare combination of size, speed and cutting ability that is reminiscent of Peterson. In 2007, Peterson’s running style was compared to Eric Dickerson, fast forward to 2014, Gordon has drawn similar comparisons to Dickerson.
His measurables are on par with what scouts prefer from the position. He has been measured at 6’1’’ and 207 pounds. Peterson, during the 2007 combine was measured at 6’1’’ 217 pounds. Gordon should have no problem putting on 8-10 pounds to provide a level of comfort to NFL execs come draft time. Gordon has shown speed and explosiveness in his game film. He is a reported sub 4.5 forty, but his value will increase or decrease based on what he runs at the 2015 NFL combine. Peterson ripped off a 4.4 forty so anything close should help solidify Gordon as a 1st round pick. Gordon has a career average of 8.1 yards per carry, while Peterson is a paltry 5.4 in comparison. The point being, Peterson is considered one of the most explosive backs ever, and Gordon has on paper, been superior in that regard. I am not saying because of these statistics Gordon will be better, it’s more a point of reference to justify being a 1st round selection.
Gordon’s mantra established by his former RB Coach Thomas Hammock, is run for 4 yards before you get 40. Gordon tells himself, “Just get the four yards, and then you'll break it”. His philosophy has worked, Gordon has shown the ability to run with power and pad level breaking tackles and big runs in the physical Big Ten conference. His running style is not as upright as Peterson’s, a concern of teams in the 2007 draft. Gordon shows tremendous balance at contact while keeping his feet moving, spinning, and deflecting tacklers to constantly move forward.
When running lanes seem to be closing, Gordon shows incredible vision and ultra-quick cutting ability to escape through the smallest of lanes and making that 4 yard run a 40 yard plus TD. Even when teams know he was getting the jet sweep, his ability to run laterally at top speed, plant his foot ,and re-direct to the end zone is a trait few RB’s in the NFL have outside of Peterson.
Gordon has shown durability as a featured ball carrier in 2013. Even when a knee injury ended his day versus Ohio State, Gordon was back the next week against Northwestern. Gordon does not have the same wear on his tires compared to Peterson who had over 700 carries in his career as a Sooner,. Gordon has 288 carries and even with a season equal to 2013, where he had 206 touches, Gordon will still be under 500 for his career.
One of the concerns for NFL scouts is Gordon’s ability to catch. The fact is no one really knows how well he catches out of the backfield since he has not been asked to be a receiver in the Badgers offense. Much of his ability to catch will be determined during his combine and pro day during the spring of 2015
Will Gordon breakthrough the 1st round barrier?
Gordon is the closest player to Adrian Peterson, since well, you know. He has the speed, power and ability to be the explosive play-maker teams want. He has been healthy over his career and has little wear and tear on is legs. If there was a back that has a chance to play through his 2nd contract, it’s Gordon. If Gordon can run a sub 4.5 and show he is capable to catching the ball then it may not be if he goes in the 1st round, but how high will he go in the first round. Gordon has the makings of becoming that special player that transcends draft history.