If there's one draft rumor that's been running rampant for the past few weeks, it's the idea that the Miami Dolphins might draft Georgia running back Todd Gurley with the fourteenth overall pick. A lot of people have been jumping on this very bandwagon, and I have slowly been doing the same thing.
However, there's still a large group of Dolphins fans who are not only not on the bandwagon, they are trying to stop it with their bare hands. But why? Is it because of the injury concerns? Is it simply because he's a running back and they're a dime a dozen?
With this column, I'm going to examine the implications that could potentially come with the drafting of Gurley, both positive and negative. After that, I will make my final judgment based on the evidence I've compiled.
Let's start with the positives. Todd Gurley has been described as a once in a decade running back, the best running back to come out of the draft since Adrian Peterson, and he's been compared to the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch.
During his college career, Gurley ran the ball 510 times for 3,285 yards and 36 touchdowns. As a receiver, he made 65 catches for 615 yards and 6 touchdowns. As I've stated many times before, I don't like to use stats without some sort of film context to make them legitimate, but in this case, the film suggests that there's nothing fake about these stats.
Justin Capriotti (@JCapSports) did the evaluation for the PhinManiacs draft guide, and he describes Gurley as a powerful all-around back, and as a 6'1" 222 pound back, he has incredible athleticism and shiftiness that is matched with the ability to bulldoze through arm tackles.
This scouting report is shared by the majority of draft experts everywhere, and they see Gurley as a potential workhorse running back. Now with all that said, let's analyze what that would mean for the Miami Dolphins.
If the Dolphins draft Gurley with their first round pick, they would arguably be using their first-rounder on a so-called luxury pick, since the team has a lot of holes that still need to be filled. But is Gurley's impact enough to make up for it?
It's at this moment when I look at all the comparisons that draft experts have made comparing Gurley to Marshawn Lynch. I look at the impact that Lynch has on the Seahawks game in and game out. It's no coincidence in my mind that games that Lynch is not a focal point of the Seahawks offense, Russell Wilson's effectiveness falls substantially more often than not.
Now is when I look into the benefits that could potentially come because of Gurley. If Gurley truly is Beast Mode 2.0, then Tannehill stands to benefit greatly from having that kind of an impact player in the backfield. Gurley would force the defense to use extra resources to stop him from running over them, and thusly it would open things up for Tannehill and his receivers, and make things easier for the offensive line since they wouldn't be able to be as aggressive.
Now, there are downsides to Gurley, and one of the biggest ones is that using a first-rounder on him would make things very difficult later on in the draft, as there are still severe needs at offensive line and wide receiver, as well as cornerback and arguably linebacker.
The team is missing a third-round pick after trading for Kenny Stills, and so the team has only two picks to find a top talent in the draft, unless of course the team finds a way to trade back and still draft the potentially elite running back.
Gurley also has health questions attached to him as he's spent time injured during his college career, and he's coming off a knee injury that has significantly lowered his draft stock. According to several draft experts, Gurley would be a top ten draft pick if it weren't for his injury, and no one is sure whether or not Gurley will be healthy when the season starts, and even if he is, if he'll stay healthy.
Drafting Gurley is risky in more ways than one, and it really is personal preference whether or not the pros outweigh the cons of drafting him. If he's drafted, then the team will have brought in an elite talent that would make the whole team better with his influence, but he would leave a fairly large amount of holes that would have to be filled by band-aid type players due to the lack of draft picks.
On the other hand, if the Dolphins pass on him, they would be missing out on that same elite talent and be more focused on need. An offensive lineman would fix the line, and then they could use their second-rounder on a wide receiver like Nelson Agholor, or the other way around if you prefer.
My thoughts on this? It all depends on how the board falls once the draft rolls around. If the top three receivers (White, Cooper and Parker) are gone, then for me it really comes down to either offensive line or Gurley. That, or a trade down to possibly acquire an extra pick and draft either middle linebacker Eric Kendricks or possibly still pick up Gurley, but that's risky.
Gurley is an elite running back, he can be the power runner the team has lacked, he can make the defenses facing him make plans to stop him specifically, he could be Marshawn Lynch 2.0, and we know how much Russell Wilson appreciates Lynch.
But can he stay healthy, and is he good enough that the team can pass on a lineman or receiver? Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network recently tweeted out that Gurley hopes to be ready by training camp, which is the best news possible for the young star, and whoever's drafting him.
For me, Gurley is anything but (see what I did there?), and he's worth the risk. However, it still depends on how the board falls in the end. I've laid out both arguments, now you choose a side.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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