For the first time since 2012, it's all but a guarantee that we will see a running back go in the 1st round of the NFL Draft. Let's look at some props involving the two top prospects on the NFL odds.
Gurley vs. Gordon
The top running back prospect on nearly every draft expert's board is Georgia's Todd Gurley. He was off to a monster start last season with the Bulldogs and was a legitimate Heisman contender before being suspended for a few games after the NCAA determined he received hundreds of dollars for signing memorabilia.
Gurley was back from suspension for a Nov. 15 blowout of Auburn where he rushed 29 times for 138 yards and a touchdown. However, he injured his knee in the game and it turned out to be a torn ACL, ending his season. Despite the seriousness of that, he declared for the draft instead of returning to Athens. Some were calling Gurley the best college running back prospect since Adrian Peterson before that injury. Herschel Walker is the only Georgia running back to score more career rushing TDs than Gurley's 36. Gurley had a career yards-per-carry average of 6.4 yards at Georgia as well as two 100-yard kickoff returns. You aren't catching him in the open field, but he also has the power at 6-foot-1, 222 pounds to bulldoze guys.
He could be ready to go for this upcoming season albeit certainly a bit slowed during the summer as he recovers. Dr. James Andrews, who performed the reconstructive surgery, says Gurley is ahead of schedule. Typically it takes nine months to a year for a full recovery. The Miami Dolphins are known to cover Gurley at No. 14, but he might not get there. The New York Giants also are reportedly big on him and they pick No. 9. The Jaguars would love to get him but not at No. 3 overall. ESPN's Todd McShay has him going No. 6 to the Jets -- that's not happening.
The No. 2 prospect is Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon. He finished second in the 2014 Heisman Trophy voting and nearly broke Barry Sanders' single-season NCAA rushing record, finishing with 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns on 343 carries, a tidy 7.5-yard average. Gordon briefly broke the NCAA single-game rushing record with 408 yards on Nov. 15 against Nebraska but then that was broken just a week later. At 6-foot, 215 pounds, Gordon doesn't have the power of Gurley but is more of a home-run threat.
The worry with him might be the recent history of Wisconsin running backs in the NFL. Since 2000 they are the likes of Ron Dayne (won Heisman), Michael Bennett, Anthony Davis, Brian Calhoun, Montee Ball and James White. Not exactly any Hall of Famers in there. That massive, farm boy Wisconsin offensive line opens gaping holes in college but things are tougher to come by in the NFL. Gordon seems likely to go at the end of the first round. The Dallas Cowboys would be giddy if he drops to them at No. 27, but I'm not sure he gets past Arizona at No. 24. Both the Cowboys and Cardinals have been linked to a possible trade for Adrian Peterson so that wouldn't be necessary by landing Gordon (or Gurley).
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Running Back Props
Gurley is the -350 NFL odds favorite to be picked as the first running back, followed by Gordon at +260, Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah at +2000 and Indiana's Tevin Coleman at +2500. Clearly the Big Ten is running back central in this draft at least among the top prospects.
The 'over/under' for running backs chosen in the first round is 1.5, with over a -600 favorite. Gurley is given an O/U draft spot of 14.5, with the 'under' a -140 favorite. Gordon is at 22.5, with the 'over' a -130 favorite.
NFL Free Picks
Gurley will not get past the Dolphins at No. 14 so go 'under' there. I haven't seen any mock drafts with Gordon going before the No. 22 pick. Maybe the Chargers at No. 17 are a possibility. They'd no doubt take Gurley if somehow Miami didn't. Go 'over' on Gordon. Both guys will be first-rounders so definitely lean 'over' that 1.5 taken prop. No other tailback will be a first-round pick, however.