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2015 St. Louis Rams Roster: Todd Gurley vs Tre Mason

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Does Tre Mason have a point? Did the Rams wrongfully doubt him, or is Todd Gurley truly just that much better than him?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams drafted Todd Gurley in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, prompting Tre Mason - who was coming off a solid rookie season - to feel a little befuddled. And former Rams running back Zac Stacy flat out asked to be traded. His wish was granted two days later. Usually when players react like this;

It's warranted from the player showing what they can do. No one that's done nothing at all will have the gall to say that. Because you are essentially saying, the team feels they need help and I am all they need.

So let's review common traits among the leagues best backs, and see who has the edge between Tre Mason and Todd Gurley.

POWER: I have to give the edge to Gurley here. But it's far from a run-away. Tre is very close behind him. While Gurley has three inches and about 15 lbs on Mason, Tre runs extremely physical and rarely falls backwards. Both players do a great job of running behind their pads, and in just that regard alone I would give the edge to Mason as Gurley tends to run a little high making it more of a challenge to get behind his pads. But when he does pain and suffering is sure to follow. Overall though this is Gurley all the way, he breaks tackles moving at quarter speed.

BURST: Here Tre makes his mark. His burst is nothing to play with. When he hits the whole it is so fast and scary. Gurley flashes good burst but it's inconsistent. Even so, when it is there it's not quite as explosive as Tre's first step. He gains speed extremely fast, where as Todd is more of a build up guy.

TOP-END SPEED: Gurley has the better overall top-end speed. Tre is no slouch, and he ran a 4.44, but in all fairness to Todd - because we don't have any recorded 40 times for him - I have to use another source. Track and field. Gurley ran a 10.7 100 meter dash, to Mason's 11.9. Of course Mason gained plenty of speed from his senior year of high school, evident from his 4.44 40, but that time usually translates to about a 10.9-11 flat. Also when you watch them break long runs you can see Gurley continuing to gain speed, as Tre maxes out around 30 yards. My guess is, a healthy Gurley is about a 4.42 guy.

VISION: This was actually the hardest area to dissect between the two. Both players have displayed exceptional vision. Tre is the surprising one here, as he played in a weird option in college. But he proved to be able to learn and adapt extremely fast, and exploits lanes with the best of them. But I have to give the nod to Gurley here. His experience with running in a pro style offense gives him the edge over most. Because he has spent the bulk of his career running between the tackles, he really understands patience, cutbacks, and setting up blocks.

BALANCE: I think Tre wins this one easily. Physics play a huge role in this. His natural low center of gravity, and powerful legs give him great balance when running the ball. He's not a guy you can just hit and he falls, he has to actually be tackled. That's not to say that you can just hit Gurley, but he can't make a move or get vertical - or whatever it may be that normally cause some one to lose balance while running - as well as Tre. Although neither player is really elusive. Neither guy really shakes defenders that well, but Tre is definitely more elusive than Gurley. Also his burst meshes well with his change of direction, whereas Todd can't stop and go as well at full speed without losing balance.

THIRD DOWN ABILITY: Gurley wins here by a landslide. He blocks, runs good routes out of the backfield and catches the ball extremely well. There's not much of an argument to be made here, if any at all.

RELIABILITY: Believe it or not this is the most important trait of all. As the saying goes for guys on the roster bubble, "you can't make the club in the tub". Well even if you're a high draft pick that's guaranteed a spot, you're still no good, if your riding the wood (keep your minds out the gutter folks). I have no doubt Tre can carry the ball 35 times a game. I have a lot of doubt that Gurley can carry it 30 times a game. This is in reference to if need be, can this guy carry the ball 30-35 times every week for 16 games? I am not sold that Todd can do that. His speed levels change during the game showing fatigue sooner than you would like, which is normal for a bigger back. However, Tre just keeps going, he's like a little ball of energy. Also, Todd comes with an extensive injury history.

CONCLUSION: Honestly, its a bit of a push. Gurley actually reminds me of a young Steven Jackson, which I know a lot of Rams fans might love to hear. Tre on the other hand reminds me of a young Maurice Jones-Drew, who by the way I used to call a miniature Steven Jackson (ironic I know). The simple truth is they have a Tre Mason clone in Gurley, he's just bigger. Let's be honest about two things here:

1.)  Gurley gets the love he get's because of his size. If he was 5'9" 205, the Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch comparisons would have never come. Also he probably would have never been considered a top 25 and certainly not a top ten pick. Big backs that can move like small backs will always get the love. Just look at the numbers, and it will make a lot more sense;


Rushing

Receiving

Year

Team

Att

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Rec

Yds

TD

2012

Georgia

222

1,385

6.2

55

17

16

117

0

2013

Georgia

165

989

6.0

75

10

37

441

6

2014

Georgia

123

911

7.4

51

9

12

57

0

Career

510

3,285

6.4

75

36

65

615

6


Rushing

Receiving

Year

Team

Att

Yds

Avg

Lng

TD

Rec

Yds

TD

2011

Auburn

28

161

5.8

22

1

0

0

0

2012

Auburn

171

1,002

5.9

86

8

7

86

0

2013

Auburn

317

1,816

5.7

53

23

12

163

1

Career

516

2,979

5.8

86

32

19

249

1

2.)  Like Tre Mason, Gurley was not necessarily needed at the time he was drafted. But he was brought in because he impressed in a way that no other back on the Rams current roster had impressed. That lasting impression came in the form of size. His speed would be a lot less impressive if he was three inches shorter and 15 lbs lighter.

With all this being said I would go with Gurley for one reason, his third down ability. Even after Mason's year in the NFL, Gurley is still head and shoulders above him in this area. This is really the tie breaker in my opinion.

So it appears the Rams could very well have two beastly backs on their hands. Of course this all depends on the performance of the offensive line. But that's another story for another day.

And just for kicks and giggles here's some entertainment for you all....