So far in draft season, we've seen Todd McShay mock the Patriots an offensive guard, and Mel Kiper project a wide receiver. The NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah offers a different position, and one that will likely catch Patriots fans off guard.
Picking at the bottom of the first, he has the Patriots selecting Georgia running back Todd Gurley.
Gurley is a 6'1, 235-pound hammer of a back who loves to initiate contact, but also offers break away speed (two kick returns for touchdowns). He was First Team All-SEC as a true freshman after rushing for 1,385 yards, receiving another 117 yards, and scoring 15 touchdowns.
In his sophomore season, he developed his receiving skills, picking up 441 yards through the air, along with 6 receiving touchdowns. Unfortunately, he was hampered by injuries the entire season (ankle, quad) and missed games along the way. Still, in 4 fewer games than in his freshman season, he still racked up 1,430 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. He was named Second Team All-SEC.
His junior year was anything but expected. He was considered the best running back in the country (a name that Melvin Gordon snatched away without looking back at the field), but after five games, he was suspended for the next four for signing autographs. In his first game back from suspension, he tore his ACL. Gurley exceeded 130 yards on the ground in all but one of his games- and that was a 6 carry, 73 yard effort against Troy.
Gurley was obviously dominant while he was on the field, but his ACL injury is a major flag for a running back to be taken in the first round. Of course, Adrian Peterson returned from an ACL injury to become more dominant than ever, so hopefully Gurley can have a similar rebound.
It would be hard to see the Patriots investing a second consecutive first round pick in a player coming off an ACL injury, especially at such a fungible position. Gurley is a great prospect, but his lateral agility wasn't a strength when he was playing and this injury certainly won't help.
What do you think?