NFL Draft Preview 2015: RB Melvin Gordon III
The Sports Quotient’s annual Draft Preview series returns! Over the course of the 10 weeks leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, we will take a look at the top NFL prospects at each position. This fifth week, the focus is on running backs. Our first rushing prospect is Tevin Coleman out of Indiana.
A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Gordon spent his freshman year as a third-stringer, but still managed to gain 621 yards on only 62 carries. As a sophomore, he moved up to second-string status and rushed for 1609 yards and 12 TDs, for which he was named a semi-finalist for the Doak Walker Award, awarded to the nation's top RB.
After speculation he would leave college for the NFL, Gordon eventually decided to return to Wisconsin, stating he felt he had room for growth. Going in, expectations were high, but Gordon managed to exceed all of them.
His junior season, Gordon racked up 2587 yards and 29 touchdowns en route to the Doak Walker award and Heisman Finalist status. His 2587 yards were second only to Barry Sanders in the NCAA D-I single season record book, with his best performance coming against Nebraska with a 408 yards in only three quarters, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson's fifteen year old record.
Gordon combines top-class speed with both the agility and power for runs to break into the secondary. He also has a Barry Sanders-esque ability to make something out of nothing, using his shiftiness in the backfield to avoid potential tacklers. His long stride makes it easy to accelerate quickly, and he can beat defenders either around the end or between the tackles for consistently long gains. But Gordon is not just quick; at 6'1" and 215 pounds, he has the size and durability needed to take the pounding that backs experience in the NFL.
As impressive as his output at Wisconsin was, it came behind one of the best offensive lines in the country, and he may not be as productive with smaller holes and more athletic defenders. Gordon was also not called upon much as a receiver as a pass blocker, and as such, he will probably have a learning curve on third down. Ball security was also an issue, with Gordon losing six fumbles in his final five games.
In the past two years, there hasn't been a running back taken in the first round. But that could change this year. Although Gordon could certainly improve some areas of his game, he is a running back, and at the end of the day, his job is to run. At this, he is one of the most talented in recent memory, and as such, he will probably grade as a first round prospect on many team's boards.
Due to the immense beating that running backs take, having one nearing the end of his career can be a major liability. As such, the Houston Texans might look to replace Arian Foster, who will be 29 this season, using their 16th overall pick. Ditto for the New York Jets and 29 year old Chris Johnson, who would be in position to select Gordon with the 20th overall pick if they complete their heavily rumored trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, his best fit might be the San Diego Chargers. Holding the 17th pick, the Bolts lost Ryan Mathews this offseason and are in desperate need of a runner; Melvin Gordon would be their best since LaDainian Tomlinson. MGIII replaced LT in the collegerecord books, it would be fitting if he followed his footsteps to the NFL.