It’s been a couple of years since the Los Angeles Rams, then the St. Louis Rams, drafted Todd Gurley in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gurley was hailed as the next great running back, a player that would prove that RBs deserved to be drafted in the first round again. He showed his worth during his rookie season, rushing for 1,106 yards, 10 touchdowns, and averaging 4.8 yards per carry off of a record-breaking for game stretch that propelled him to be named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Last season would prove to be a struggle for Gurley. He was fifth in carries and 12th in targets among running backs in the NFL, but finished the season with 885 rushing yards and 327 receiving yards. The Rams focused their offense around Gurley. Although he didn’t produce, it wasn’t all his fault.
Here is a stat provided by Pro Football Focus:
A whopping 68.5% of Todd Gurley's rushing yards in 2016 came after contact. pic.twitter.com/abJNguRQbQ— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 22, 2017
Like a former Ram running back would say, yikes!
Gurley is by far and away the most talented player in the backfield, and he doesn’t have to worry about his snaps dwindling.
It seems like the team would like to incorporate a change-of-pace passing threat out of the backfield, since they signed Lance Dunbar (roster preview) during the offseason. However with Dunbar rehabbing his latest injury it will be interesting to see if Gurley will handle more of those opportunities than the team wanted him to or if the team will turn to someone like Malcolm Brown (roster preview) to pick up the slack.
The expectations should be that Gurley will get back on track. Last season was tough on him with opposing defenses keying in on Gurley and attacking the Rams makeshift offensive line.
It’s easy to write about what my expectations would be, but maybe he should take a step back and head back into the classroom, at least that’s what current starting OL Jamon Brown (roster preview) had to say about Gurley after last season:
This was a rather interesting quote, from Rams guard Jamon Brown, on what Todd Gurley could have done to help the run game this year. pic.twitter.com/w1wccOGKNc— Rich Hammond (@Rich_Hammond) January 2, 2017
It would be a shock if Gurley didn’t perform to the potential that he demonstrated during his rookie season. With the offensive line looking the best that it has looked in years and the roster finally having receivers with potential, the Rams’ offense could actually be solid this season.
If the offense is going to make the leap then Gurley will have to put the team on his back in big moments and make plays this season, instead of just running the ball for a couple of yards.
Chances of making the final roster (10/10)
He’s the most consistent player on the offense, he’s going to be on the roster. The Rams should hope that the version of Gurley they receive is the one who can put a franchise on his back while QB Jared Goff works on his issues.