With the draft coming up at the end of the month, we will offer up a breakdown of players at positions of need for the Dallas Cowboys.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley
Height: 6-0 5/8 Weight: 222
ESPN Insider rank: No. 1 running back, No. 11 overall
Games viewed: Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee
Scouting report: In my earlier reports about Marcus Peters and Malcolm Brown, I mentioned how I wasn’t blown away by either player despite the high marks given them by other people. In watching Gurley run, I was completely blown away.
The highlight runs you expect when a guy is as gifted as Gurley. But what I liked is how he was able to pick up the dirty yards. He wasn’t turning a 5-yard gain into a 2-yard gain by trying to find a crease that wasn’t there.
His vision against Clemson was impressive. He gashed their defense with a number of tosses to the left. He was able to run through tackles and pick up more yards. On his 18-yard TD, he showed some ability to go off script once the backside hole opened up.
He looks like he is gliding at times but defenders don’t get proper angles on him. Against South Carolina, he needed some of those dirty runs. He wasn’t dancing around. He was decisive with his runs. He appears to like following a fullback, but he is not married to where the fullback goes. On fourth and 1 he stuck his head into the pile for a first down. For a big guy, he has some decent stop and start to him.
In the first two games he did a decent job keeping the ball close to his body. Against Tennessee, it was away from him a little too much. The first defender rarely tackles him. On a slip screen he sought contact, running over a defender, which reminded me a little of DeMarco Murray.
In the passing game, he has a good feel for the screen game. He has decent hands and can adjust to poor throws. He is willing in the pass-protection game and understands how to adjust when things break down at times. Only once did I see him get trucked in pass protection.
Biggest concern: It has to be the knee. If he didn’t have the injury then there would be no way the Cowboys would have a chance at him at No. 27. Actually, I’m not sure they will have a chance at him at No. 27 anyway. A runner has only so many hits and whenever there is a major knee injury there has to be some concern. I just don’t think it’s enough to get him to fall to No. 27.
What ESPN Insider says about his vision/patience: Is occasionally impatient and fails to allow blocks to develop, but showed improvement in that area in 2014. But overall, he is decisive and shows good vision. Doesn't dance. Hits hole hard and also senses cutback lanes. Also shows good vision and aggressiveness as a kick-return specialist.
Cowboys fit: Sometimes college runners look better than they are because of scheme and their line. Gurley was able to create some big plays on his own without decent blocking at times. With the Cowboys’ line it’s important the runner has the right blend of patience, power and speed. He has all of those. If he is there at No. 27, I can’t think of a reason why the Cowboys would pass on him. We can talk about defensive help all we want, but Gurley would make the Cowboys’ defense better by keeping it off the field the way Murray did last year.