San Diego’s Melvin Gordon is the most NFL ready rookie running back from the class of 2015. The Wisconsin product boasts the coveted combination of opportunity and talent that fantasy owners love to find in first-year players. Gordon has the stature, speed and pass-catching ability to be an every down back and is sitting at the top of the Bolts’ depth chart.
The Chargers traded up to select Gordon with the number 15 pick in the NFL draft in effort to revive the run game and lure veteran QB, Philip Rivers, to stay with the team. Rivers is in the final year of his contract, but may want to sign an extension and stick around to see the development of an offensive juggernaut.
Gordon set all kinds of milestones at Wisconsin. MG set school records with 12 100-yard games and six 200-yard games. He briefly held the FBS single-game rushing record with 408 yards against Nebraska. Gordon currently sits at the No. 2 spot for most single-season rushing yards in FBS history with 2,587 yards (Barry Sanders is No. 1 with 2,628).
NFL scouts have compared Gordon to the likes of Jamaal Charles. Gordon’s ability to make a cut and burst through a single hole for a big play is what will make him stand out in the NFL. Gordon’s pass catching is not as elite as Charles but it has improved enough heading into Chargers’ camp.
Danny Woodhead will return from injury in 2015 and likely see his role expanded to what it once was. On third and long, it’s a no-brainer Woodhead will be on the field. However, expect all of the early-down work to be gobbled up by Gordon. Donald Brown and Branden Oliver provide no threat to Gordon’s usage.
Finally, the most important factor is health. Gordon played in every game his junior and senior year at Wisconsin. Todd Gurley, who was selected five spots ahead of Gordon, was hampered by an ankle injury in 2013 and had 2014 cut short due to a torn ACL. Gurley is still recovering from the knee injury and won’t be available for the start of the season. That doesn’t just make Gordon the safer option heading into 2015, but the better option moving forward for his lack of injury history and time spent currently practicing with teammates.
The time spent in OTA’s and minicamp, on the field, and getting reps, is invaluable for rookies. Gordon will be more than prepared come time September and ready to make a case for Rookie Offensive Player of the Year.
ESPN rankings currently have Gordon as the No. 17 back behind Alfred Morris, Lamar Miller and Carlos Hyde. Gordon has the potential to leap frog all three of them and many other backs by time season end. Gordon is the full package and a legitimate RB2; therefore, he should be drafted as one.