NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano
With the Turf Report taking the past couple weeks off, figured it would be appropriate to return with some mid-season rankings. Lets take a look at who’s stood out from the pack, and which amateur backs might be donning a flying Elvis on their helmet next fall?
First Tier (Rounds 1-2)
Melvin Gordon: JR, Wisconsin, 6’1” 207lbs
Todd Gurley: JR, Georgia, 6’1” 226lbs
It’s splitting hairs when talking about Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon. Both players are worthy of 1st round picks in my opinion, and could be lead backs on many NFL rosters right now. Whether a team feels that position warrants a 1st round pick will ultimately determine where they’re selected. Gurley will most likely be taken first, leaving Gordon as the consolation prize.
Personally, Gordon is my favorite RB in college football. He harnesses all of his athletic gifts to construct a complete game. He’s explosive and relentless once he gets going. Many will argue Gurley has been just as impressive, and done so in a tougher conference, however in my eyes Gordon edges him out by the smallest margin. I’m curious how much Gurley’s recent suspension will effect him, if at all heading into the draft. Adding either of these backs would improve New England’s running game dramatically. Belichick has already dipped into the Wisconsin RB jar once for James White, would he do it again picking Gordon?
Second Tier (Rounds 2-4)
Ameer Abdullah: SR, Nebraska, 5’9” 195lbs
Tevin Coleman: JR, Indiana, 6’1” 210lbs
Javorius Allen: JR, Southern California, 6’1” 220lbs
Ameer Abdullah is off to a tremendous start this season, taking advantage of his small frame by getting inside defenders. He’s a quick back who’s not afraid of contact or getting physical. Teams may rank him lower than other RB’s in this year’s class do to his stature, but Abdullah is more than just a 3rd down back and will be able to handle a more robust role at the next level. Javorius Allen has excellent size and would be a more than suitable replacement for Stevan Ridley. Just like the RB’s mentioned beforehand, Allen is an effective pass catcher who extends his value after 2nd down. In many ways Tevin Coleman is the poor man’s version of Gurley and Gordon, nice speed and athletic ability, but just outside the top tier for now.
Third Tier (Rounds 4-7)
Duke Johnson: JR, Miami, 5’9” 206lbs
David Cobb: SR, Minnesota, 5’11” 229lbs
Josh Robinson: JR, Mississippi State, 5’9” 215lbs
Jeremy Langford: SR, Michigan State, 6’1” 208lbs
T.J. Yeldon: JR, Alabama, 6’2” 221lbs
Josh Robinson’s game reminds me so much of Maurice Jones-Drew. He’s a stocky framed back with a pair of thunder thighs that don’t stop churning. Robinson uses his low center of gravity effectively, and is a reliable option through the air as well. Question is, how much of his production is due to playing with Dak Prescott? Duke Johnson is one of the most talented backs in the country, and has the speed to be a game breaker in New England’s offense. While Jeremy Langford shares many of the qualities that his old stable mate and current Steelers’ RB Le’Veon Bell encompasses. Langford, T.J. Yeldon and David Cobb would all provide power between the tackles and have enough wiggle to make plays around the edge.
Other Notable Options: Jay Ajayi, Mike Davis, D.J. Foster, Cameron Artis-Payne, Byron Marshall
Melvin Gordon, Javorius Allen
I’m not sure what exactly Belichick will be looking for this spring. If the Patriots don’t choose to resign Vereen or Ridley, than double dipping in the draft might be their approach again. A lot depends on whether or not younger backs like James White and Jonas Gray can emerge this season. Ideally, White would become Vereen’s replacement in the passing game, maybe more. They already have Tyler Gaffney mending on IR, who could also become a factor heading into next year. Many variables exist, but my best prediction would be that New England looks to add at least one more body at the position via the draft. If Melvin Gordon is available when they pick in the 2nd round, that would be my choice. If Gordon is gone by that point, then Javorius Allen – who not only offers size, but some versatility as well – would be a more than viable option during rounds 3 and 4.