Some things in life just kind of suck the first time around. Then you take some time away from those things, come back to them, and poof, they’re great. Prime example: Beer. I don’t exactly remember trying beer for the first time, but I know at some point, probably around the age of 12, my dad let me try a sip of his Miller Genuine Draft. Oh, what a fine beer, MGD. Undoubtedly the champagne of beers. Anyway, I took a sip of beer and hated it. It tasted like water with a little bit of urine. I swore off beer. There I was at the ripe age of 12 telling myself that I would never like that urine laced swill.
Oh how wrong I was.
Fast forward ten years and there is no life without beer. With every sweet sip I wonder how even the pre-pubescent me couldn’t have at least respected the taste of that golden nectar. Sometimes in life we just find ourselves a little young and naive and we make judgments too quickly, before we’ve given an ample amount of time to think things through.
Now to my point, the same thinking can be attributed to the 2015 running back draft class. The hype was real with this class. You had Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon, a pair of all-world talent running backs. If you remember, Gordon even ran for 408 yards in a single game while at Wisconsin, an FBS record that stood for a whole week until up-and-coming prospect Samaje Perine of Oklahoma ran for 427 yards against Kansas. Well, Gordon didn’t run for over 100 yards in a single game for the Chargers last year. In fact, he never even reached 90 yards, topping out at 88 in week two against the Bengals. Gurley obviously had a good bit of success last year so the same can’t be said about him, but there were plenty of other rookie backs that were penned for success in their first season but fell flat (some more or less than others). To name a few, other than Gordon, we have Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman and David Cobb.
Now we’ll be checking into their values moving forward in an effort to determine whether you should buy or sell:
Melvin Gordon: “He catches the football well out of the backfield. When you watch him run in tight areas, that is what differentiates him.” – Mike Mayock of NFL.com prior to the 2015 Draft.
Gordon played like a rookie in 2015 and a lot of people panicked and still aren’t too sure about him and whether he can turn it around. If you go back and watch some of his runs from last year, he has happy feet far too often from the moment he gets the ball. It’s a prime example of something you can get away with in college and run for 408 yards against defensive players who are much smaller and less talented than those in the NFL.
In his first year, Gordon caught 33 balls for 192 yards, a respectable line for a rookie running back. Ken Whisenhunt praised him a couple times for his abilities as a pass-catcher last year so, Mayock may have been on the money with his 2015 assessment. Continued improvement in this area would greatly increase Gordon’s value given the struggles he will ultimately continue to see for at least a short while running the ball.
Sadly, Danny Woodhead and his goatee are still on the Chargers so, Gordon’s overall value won’t skyrocket just yet. I don’t see Gordon lighting up a stat sheet early in the 2016 season so, it may be best to wait a little longer and then start to buy on Gordon. In other words, I think Gordon’s value may dip even further before we see a spike.
Ameer Abdullah: “He has breakaway speed. If he hits the hole, he’s gone.” – Mike Mayock of NFL.com prior to the 2015 Draft.
What a backfield the Lions have. I’m not even sure if I mean that in a good or bad way. Joique is out and Stevan Ridley is in, alongside Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner (whose hype I can’t quite understand). I’m the highest on Abdullah within the realm of second year backs having a breakout. I’ll even go as far to say that Abdullah finishes within the top-7 in rushing yards this year (that’s me not having the nads to say top-5, but also feeling like saying top-10 isn’t a bold statement – full disclosure, people). The reason for this is that I don’t believe in the Zenner hype, Ridley did anything but impress last season coming back from an ACL tear and Theo Riddick is not going to get near as many targets as he did last year. Riddick does about 95% of his damage through the air as he’s compiled an earth-shattering 2.9 YPC in his first three NFL seasons.
The Lions ranked dead-last in rushing play percentage last season (35.9%) and no longer employ the likes of Megatron making me feel like that percentage will go up a whole lot this season, benefitting Abdullah greatly. Zenner, Ridley and Riddick will get their opportunities, but nobody holds the big play ability like Abdullah does. Buy, Buy, Buy!
David Cobb: “Cobb is a bowling ball, downhill runner who fits what Whisenhunt wants to do in his power run scheme.” – Mark Dulgerian of NFL.com prior to the 2015 Draft.
Cobb is fifth on the Titans depth chart, might not even make the team and you can basically throw out the above quote because Whisenhunt is out of Tennesee. Other than that, great prospect. Also, I’ve been trying to think of a “Cobb Salad” joke for like 10 minutes now so I’m going to stop wasting your time. Moving on.
Tevin Coleman: “Coleman has big-time, top-end speed.” – Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com prior to the 2015 Draft.
All of these reports that the Falcons want to reduce Devonta Freeman’s workload in favor of Coleman seem a little bit overhyped in my eyes. Last summer there were rumblings that the Vikings would significantly balance out Adrian Peterson’s workload for the 2015 season given that he was getting older. Coaches seem to like saying things like this because Peterson still ended up carrying the ball 327 times, just 36 less carries than his career high. Jerick McKinnon finished second on the team in rushing attempts with 52.
Now, I do think that Tevin Coleman is more talented and has a better outlook than McKinnon, but it still needs to be noted that things don’t always end up as the coaches see it being in June/July. There will come a point when Coleman will be flashing his north-and-south speed in Atlanta, and it may be this season, just not enough to make a major impact. There’s plenty of positive talk surrounding Coleman and for this reason I think his dynasty stock is high enough to get a solid return. However, with 24-year old Freeman in the fold, I’m selling.
Thanks for reading! You can interact with me on Twitter @_FFGuy.