Prospect Comparison: Melvin Gordon vs. Todd Gurley

NFL Draft

As the NFL moves more toward passing the football, the RB position is falling out of vogue. In the last two NFL Drafts, there has not been a RB drafted in the first round, but that should change for the 2015 NFL Draft. There are two contenders for the top RB spot at this point, both juniors, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and Georgia’s Todd Gurley. These are two very different RBs, so NFL teams will have to make a decision on who to invest in.


The size difference between the two RBs is clear from the beginning. Todd Gurley is a hulking 6’1 226 pounds with hulking arms, legs, and trunk to run through opposing defenders. Melvin Gordon is not a slouch listed at 6’1 207 pounds, but he does not have near the bulk that Gurley does. Gordon has size that matches with a typical 3-down NFL RB, but Gurley has that special size that puts fear in opposing defenses.

Advantage: Todd Gurley

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In a pure speed sense, Melvin Gordon would likely win in a foot race (being 20 pounds lighter than your opponent would do that,) but athletic ability puts this very close. Todd Gurley already has some big time documented speed to hang his hat on, running track for Team USA and completing the 7th fastest 60-meter hurdle time in UGA history (8.12 seconds). On the field, he has some good wiggle to him and cuts extremely well. His athleticism is recognizable and that dangerous combination of size and athletic ability make him an absolute monster. Melvin Gordon has the “shot out of a cannon” look after getting the snap and hits his third gear very quickly. In the open field, he is near impossible to catch up to. He also has the short range athletic ability to make him an athletic nightmare. Both players get pluses in this category, but Gordon has a bit more athletic versatility to him.

Advantage: Melvin Gordon


This is where both players diverge in style. Todd Gurley is elusive by using his size to his advantage. He is rarely brought down by one defender, and arm tackles seem to fall off of Gurley due to his footwork. Gurley has a balance of power and finesse that forces him to be a focus for defenses. Gordon’s play is the prototypical elusive player. He is big enough to take punishment, but seems to always be moving and wiggling so defenders don’t get a clean shot on him. He has the type of cutting ability of a LeSean McCoy that punishes bad angles or poor tackling technique. In a power run scheme, Gordon might falter, but Wisconsin has adjusted their scheme to him and he has shown that a ZBS or spread scheme would make him dangerous. I’ll take Gurley’s combination of power and elusiveness, but this is another area both players excel in.

Advantage: Todd Gurley


One of the most important, and hardest to improve, elements of a RBs game is their vision to identify holes, cut back lanes, and open space to maximize their yardage. Both players still have to improve in this element of their game, but neither is deficient. Melvin Gordon has been used on a lot of one cut runs this season so far which requires good vision, and there has been improvement. He has a tendency to kick to the outside a bit too much and go for the big play, but he does identify defensive schemes and their weaknesses well. He can find running lanes when not apparent and often makes a big play due to his vision. Todd Gurley is solid, though he will often create lanes trusting his body and athletic ability vs. his vision. The Georgia offense this year has been made to put Gurley in space and may cover some vision questions. There are concerns Gurley could end up like Trent Richardson, a bit too tenuous, so Gordon gets the edge.

Advantage: Melvin Gordon

Health/Work Load:

Todd Gurley has had two years of a near full workload, and going on his third in 2014. As a sophomore in 2013, Gurley suffered an injury that brings up a red flag on his scouting report. Gurley suffered a thigh injury against Clemson in the opening game and missed most of his time due to an ankle injury sustained during the LSU game. Gurley’s running style often leaves him open to leg injuries, similar to someone like Darren McFadden. Gurley not only has a more upright running style, but he runs very straight legged, which leaves him open to big leg impacts on his ankles, knees, and thighs. Toss in that he will leave his college career with over 600 carries, and there is some fear about his health and previous workload. Gordon falls on the other end of the spectrum. He has stayed healthy, but has never carried a full load in college. Gordon only had 62 carries as a redshirt freshman, and he split early 50/50 with James White last season as a sophomore. This season, Corey Clement is lessening the load and there will be concerns about if Gordon can handle 3-down back duties and carries. Gordon gets the nod due to a clean bill of health, but there are question marks for both.

Advantage: Melvin Gordon

Pass Catching

With Melvin Gordon’s physical make-up, there would be an expectation that is an excellent pass catcher, but that is not the case. He has combined for 3 catches so far in his college career and does not appear to be a big part of the passing game this season for Wisconsin. Todd Gurley on the other hand has been active in the screen and short passing game. He has good, soft hands, and doesn’t use his body to cradle passes. Gurley could be a real threat getting the ball in space.

Advantage: Todd Gurley

Pass Blocking:

Both runners are solid pass blockers at this point in their careers. Gurley’s size and balance makes him a formidable blocker. Gordon stands in tall, but has had his issues with blocking Des who have come free. Gurley is a slightly better blocker but it is not a deficiency of either players

Advantage: Todd Gurley

This is a tougher comparison than most think. The obvious answer is Gurley with his size, speed, athleticism, and pass catching. The other hand is the health issues and running style with Gurley that are not apparent with Gordon. It will be a close battle, but ultimately Gurley will go higher due to his “physical freak” nature, though picking Gordon might be a safer option to have an explosive RB free from injuries.

For more from Shane, visit and on twitter @ShanePHallam

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