The reaction from Rams fans when their favorite team took Todd Gurley at #10 overall was overwhelmingly negative. To a certain extent, I understand 3k's argument for why taking Gurley with the Rams' first round pick wasn't warranted. But the larger part of me believes that Snead and Fisher made the right call when the selected the former Georgia Bulldog at #10 overall.
1) Snisher Made the Best of a Worst-Case Scenario... and it Wasn't Even That Bad
Most Rams fans had their eyes on a group of 4 players in the days leading up to the Draft: WRs Amari Cooper & Kevin White or OLs Brandon Scherff & Ereck Flowers. Everyone knows the story by now. The Redskins passed up Leonard Williams in favor of Scherff, the Giants snagged Flowers, and neither WR came close to falling to the Rams.
A common Plan B to Rams fans was La'el Collins. That fell apart in a hurry. He was unable to clear his name before the draft and the NFL denied him the ability to withdraw from the Draft. He is now an UDFA and will likely stay that way until his name is cleared.
When Flowers went to the Giants at #9, I'm fairly certain that every Rams fan on the planet was screaming for a trade down - presumably with the Dolphins at #14 for WR Devante Parker. Primarily due to a lack of players worth trading up for, Snead was unable to swing a trade.
After the Rams selected Gurley, word got out that Gurley was the Rams top rated player in the entire draft. The Rams have been built with a BPA philosophy under Snead and Fisher. They simply stuck to their philosophy here. Anytime you get the opportunity to draft top player on your board at #10 (who happens to be the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson), it's not really a worst case scenario.
2) Fisher Needs a Dominant Run Game to Make the Playoffs
Jeff Fisher has made the playoffs in 6 seasons as a head coach. Below is a table of how those teams have fared in the run game.
|Team Rushing Total
That's an average of 1963 yards for a Jeff Fisher team that's made the playoffs. Under Fisher, the Rams have averaged 1700 yards pretty much on the nose. That's >250 less than those TEN playoff teams. Even with investing heavily in the RB position in recent drafts, the Rams top rushing totals came in 2013 when the team amassed 1752 yards - still 200 shy of that Titans average.
Sure the Rams have Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham, but are either of those backs capable of putting up over 1000 yards? You could argue for Mason, but Cunningham is largely a complementary piece. Even when Zac Stacy was on board, you'd be hard pressed to predict that trio gaining close to 2000 yards as a committee.
Adding Gurley to that group - even if only for the 2nd half of the season - will add a dynamic runner with fresh legs to the mix. Dr. James Andrews has gone on record as saying Gurley is "probably six weeks" ahead of schedule, projecting him as being ready for the preseason. If his knee is fully healed, he's going to be adrenaline shot to this Offense.
3) Foles Excels with a Dominant Run Game
In 2013, when Foles set an NFL record with 27 TDs and a miniscule 2 picks, he had an elite running game behind him headlined by LeSean McCoy. Tying into the above point, Shady had 1607 rushing yards (2146 from scrimmage) and the Eagles had 2586 yards rushing. How'd they fare? 10-6 and a division crown. But I digress. Needless to say, with Shady setting team records Foles excelled to the tune of a 119.2 rating.
In his career, he was 15-4 when the Eagles ran the ball 25 or more times a game. Under Fisher, the Rams have averaged 25.6 carries per game. Adding quality carries to that 25.6 will only strengthen the run game and thus make Foles even more effective.
Anytime you are compared to Bo Jackson (as Gurley was here) you're doing alright. There is no doubting that the OL is still a question mark, but I'm more worried about the pass pro than run blocking.
When scouring the interwebs for a pro comparision to Gurley, I came across this. If this comparison rings true, Rams fans will be left smiling when it's all said and done.
Please try and rid your memory of the Falcons’ version of Steven Jackson; instead look back on the Oregon State Jackson, or even his earlier Ram days, where he was an absolute monster. Jackson ran for eight straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2005-2012 and had a season in 2006 that included 1,528 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns, while adding 90 receptions for 806 yards and three touchdowns. What I saw in both Jackson and Todd Gurley were big-bodied runners who are powerful and extremely patient. I decided to go with Jackson because of their similarities in acceleration and vicious running style, while also taking into account their intimidating overall stature. Both have the ability to run by you or run over you.
What makes these guys so special is the ability to be a pounder and also take it 80 yards to the house. Both Jackson and Gurley are extremely well-rounded, foundation-type runners. Another aspect I liked when breaking down Gurley was pass protection. His ability to take on linebackers should at least give him a better shot to stay on the field on third down early in his NFL career. Gurley is no secret to dynasty owners and is my favorite all-around offensive prospect in this class. Gurley will be the type of talent to build an NFL offense and fantasy roster around. The knee injury is obviously a concern, but given his age and the recent success of similar athletes, I believe it will help tame the hype some, but not much. This is the best running back to come out since AP.