Heading into his second season in the NFL, Todd Gurley has already thrust himself into the conversation of elite running backs. He dominated the league as soon as he stepped on the field, eventually earning himself a Rookie of the Year award over a handful of other deserving players like Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Amari Cooper. Gurley is looking to bring home an even more impressive title next season.
Six members of the NFL’s official site discussed who they thought could lead the league in rushing next season. Adrian Peterson and Le’Veon Bell both got well deserved votes, but Gurley won a majority of the votes. He received half of the votes, while Peterson received two and Bell got Ike Taylor’s nod (shocking!).
There’s an interesting trend in the voting. Four of the voters were former running backs and/or fullbacks in the NFL. Three of those four cast their vote on Gurley. LaDainian Tomlinson, Michael Robinson and Maurice Jones-Drew all foresee a bright season and career ahead of Gurley. For Gurley to earn the faith of two of the NFL’s best running backs from the mid-2000 era this early in his career is quite remarkable.
Despite starting just 12 games (and appearing in one other) last season, Gurley ranked 3rd in the league in rushing yards. He totaled 1,106 yards on 229 carries (4.83 yards per carry), not to mention his 10 rushing touchdowns. Gurley trailed Peterson, last year’s rushing leader, by 379 yards, which would've taken Gurley 79 more attempts to match Peterson. Gurley's theoretical 308 carry season would have been a lighter load than Peterson's 327 carries by about a full game's worth of rushing attempts.
With Teddy Bridgewater likely taking on a bigger role next year and Peterson continuing to age, Gurley should be able to dethrone Peterson, especially since the Rams will run often due to them having a rookie quarterback. Bell, the other player who received vote in the NFL’s round table poll, is coming off an MCL injury and may be in for a slow start to the season.
Gurley’s other likely competitor for the rushing crown would be Doug Martin, whose quarterback, Winston, will also be taking on a bigger role than he had the year before. Gurley is being given every opportunity to lead the NFL is rushing yards and he has more than enough talent necessary to pull it off.