Despite his devastating knee injury last season, the St. Louis Rams selected Georgia RB Todd Gurley No. 10 in the 2015 NFL draft.
When general managers insist they will draft the "best player available," this is what they have in mind. With the No. 10 pick, despite getting an impressive rookie season out of 2014 third-rounder Tre Mason, the St. Louis Rams took Georgia RB Todd Gurley. Prior to suffering a devastating knee injury last season, Gurley had established himself as one of college football's true superstar. Recent medical checks showed that Gurley's rehab was on track, even giving him a shot to be ready for the start of the regular season. A healthy Gurley could wind up as the 2015 draft's best player—he really is that good, both as a runner and pass-catcher. Gurley is a physical back, with the vision to find creases and the speed to pull away from secondaries. Talent-wise, getting him at 10 has the potential to be a steal.
The intrigue for the Rams comes both in Mason's presence and from their obvious holes along the offensive line. A Mason-Gurley combo (assuming the Rams hold onto Mason) could take off behind QB Nick Foles, but that's only if the line can be stabilized in short order.
Strengths: Possesses a truly rare combination of power and speed. Most backs at his size simply can't hit the edge with his acceleration and unique second gear. Patient behind his blocks to sweeps and pulls outside, and can hit top speed in a flash. Has a muscular frame that allows him to be merciless with his power in the open field, even when he runs too high; Gurley's blend of acceleration and brute force makes every tackle a real adventure. Has excellent vision to maintain advantage of openings, and can move through them in time. Better lateral agility than you see in most power backs—can juke defenders, though he prefers to plow through or just outrun them. Will add value as a receiver out of the backfield. Laterally quick enough to cut back against the grain and find new gaps on either side of the line. Has a nasty stiff-arm. Decent blocker who can upend defenders when he hits the target right on. Doesn't fumble often and gets a very high percentage of his yardage after contact.
Weaknesses: Weaknesses: Gurley's medicals will obviously be a major issue as the draft draws closer and his NFL team hopes for his start time—ACL surgeries generally take six to nine months to fully recover. The physical nature of his play has led to an injury history beyond that (missed three games with an ankle issue in 2013) that may give teams pause. Not especially agile in short spaces, and needs a second to ramp back up when he re-directs, which could be a problem unless he's able to maintain the speed portion of his rare talent equation at the next level. Needs to be more exact with his blocking. But honestly, when we're talking about on-field weaknesses, we're splitting hairs here. The hypothetically healthy Todd Gurley is as close to a sure thing as you'll see.
Player comparison: Adrian Peterson