There was never any chance of Todd Gurley landing in Seattle, but the Seahawks still ranked him as the #1 prospect in the draft.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are reporting Gurley was highly rated by the Seahawks as the top player available in the 2015 class.
It won’t be a surprise. Despite picking up a serious knee injury Gurley was still taken in the top-10 picks. There was talk pre-draft he could’ve gone even earlier. We’ll never know what a team like the Jets would’ve done had Leonard Williams been taken before the #6 pick. Teams loved Gurley’s rare combination of speed, power and size.
It does make you wonder though — had Seattle not recovered from a 3-3 start in 2014 and ended up picking in the middle of the first round — would the aggressive move be a trade up for Gurley instead of a deal for Jimmy Graham?
Replacing Marshawn Lynch will be the toughest thing John Schneider and Pete Carroll ever have to do in Seattle. The way they rated Gurley suggests if they see a fantastic back available in a future draft — they might not shy away from yet another bold move to fill that need.
Looking ahead to the 2016 draft — and it’s still way too early to make a firm judgement — there isn’t a Gurley-level talent preparing to enter the league.
Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott has fair size and speed but he plays with a lot of power. He’ll often fall forward after contact. He’s also capable of making the big play. There’s nothing overtly special about Elliott or unique but he has every chance of going in round one with a big season for a Championship caliber team. The question is can he play the way he did in the playoffs last season for long stretches during the current regular season? A legitimate Heisman candidate — but it was interesting to see the Buckeyes come out throwing against Virginia Tech.
Arkansas’ Alex Collins is a terrific player with a nice 5-11 frame with good mass and power. Like Elliott he always seems to get yards after contact — but he has a home-run hitting ability too. It’ll be very interesting to see how he and Elliott test for speed. He flashes plenty of power and might be a cheaper — and possibly more effective — alternative to Elliott. A very interesting player with a pro-future as a day one or two pick.
Derrick Henry is enormous at around 6-3 and 240lbs. He doesn’t play with a mean streak though — he’s positively finesse at times and doesn’t always dominate the way he should. Eddie Lacy was a wrecking machine for Alabama and you kind of feel like Henry should be more like that with his size. Even so — he’s deceptively quick running in a straight line and a natural athlete. It gives him a level of uniqueness the other two players above lack. Is he a bell-cow at the next level? Probably not. He could be a nice compliment to a back of a different style working in a committee system.
2017 could be very interesting for running backs. Nick Chubb, Leonard Fournette, Samaje Perrine and Royce Freeman will all be eligible. If Lynch is prepared to continue next year — the Seahawks might be able to delay this search at least in terms of the early rounds.