It’s a tough question for me: Would I be happy if the Rangers won, but the Jets took Todd Gurley with the 6th overall pick. My guess is yes, but that wouldn’t absolve the Jets of their blunder. In the modern NFL running backs simply don’t provide the same amount of value to the offense as wide receivers and tackles. Having said all of that, I’d be fine with Gurley in the second round (not gonna happen), or any of the five running backs I gave second round grades to in the third round. Basically, due to the devaluing of the position, I’d only want to take a running back if they’d fallen well past their grade. It’s not clear how many NFL teams agree with me on this. The “Best player available” mantra has to be reconciled with positional value. Individual thoughts:
Todd Gurley: He may have to start the season on the PUP list. He’s an asset in pass protection and as a receiver in the flats. Easily the most desirable running back of this class. In another era he’d go in the top 5.
Melvin Gordon: Great vision, good body control. Doesn’t provide much value in the passing game, either as a blocker or as a receiver. Gurley may be worth a gamble, but Gordon isn’t in that class. I think the team that grabs him in the first round is making a mistake.
After that things get a bit tricky. Jay Ajayi is off of some team’s draft boards due to injury concerns. If I wanted to gamble on a RB in the second round I’d either go with Abdullah and hope he becomes Giovani Bernard, or Tevin Coleman. Coleman has sickle cell, which is a concern, as is the turf toe he suffered in college. When healthy he is tremendously explosive and an accomplished receiver.
Frankly, it really comes down to value. Any team that reaches for a running back is likely making a mistake.