Maurice Jones-Drew of NFL Network took a stab at ranking all 32 RB1’s in the league heading into the 2019 NFL season, with the parameters being defined as only starting running backs being ranked, with some being projected starters (Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Ronald Jones for example).
Here’s what MJD had to say about Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley:
6. Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Gurley was one of the most productive backs in the league last season, ranking second among RBs in touches per game (22.5), rushing yards per game (89.4) and scrimmage yards per game (130.8). He also scored a league-high 21 touchdowns. A knee injury sidelined Gurley for the last two weeks of the regular season, and he wasn’t the same in his return in the postseason. Looking ahead to 2019, less is more in his situation -- as I explained on “NFL Total Access” earlier this month. Of course, the knee issue will be something to continue to monitor, but the Rams will get carries from Malcolm Brown and third-round draft pick Darrell Henderson, which will allow Gurley to be fresher and more explosive when he is on the field. Don’t get it twisted, though; Gurley’s production will still be among the best in the league. Just on fewer touches.
There’s not much to argue with concerning MJD’s explanation. Gurley is likely to see less playing time and less touches in an effort to preserve his long-term health. His ability to continue to perform at an elite level will be a question mark, though there were times in the postseason post-injury flare-up where he looked like the classic Gurley we all knew and loved.
As for the players above Gurley, they’re all likely to be workhorse’d to death outside of New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara. Here’s the top-5 players prior to Gurley coming in at number six:
- Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
- Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
- Le’Veon Bell, RB, New York Jets
- Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
The ranking is the interesting factor, because Gurley could very well be on top of the list barring a fully clean bill of health.
Regardless, the Rams braced for the worst with the early draft selection of third-round pick RB Darrell Henderson. And if that means two guys can share the rock and both produce while maintaining a clean bill of health for everyone, then so be it.