As we do with every draft, we begin to look at some of the prospects assigned to the Ravens through various mock drafts. We look at their game tape and point out the good and the bad with a final analysis of the player.
Today we look at Melvin Gordon, RB from Wisconsin. Currently rated as the top rusher on Mike Mayock's positional board, it becomes apparent as we watch the tape on why that is.
Gordon has all the markings of a guy that will exceed at the next level. Speed, size, vision, determination and instincts. As with any prospect, there are things that Gordon will need to get better at in order to fully achieve greatness, but all of the signs are there and with the right prodding, Gordon can possibly be that type of player for the Ravens.
Gordon has the mark of a homerun hitter. On the outside or in the second level, he can turn every run into a touchdown using his breakaway speed and agility. With a better quarterback behind center, Gordon could have had a record breaking season for Wisconsin, adding to his already lofty 2,587 rushing yards for the 2013-14 season. His speed creates bad angles for defensive players, which results in many broken arm tackles.
Gordon runs heavier at times than his size would indicate and he can move piles if he gets a good start and keeps his pad level down. Has thick thighs and a pretty muscled physique that is hard to get down if he gets low. Tall frame and long legs means that he eats up space quickly with a long stride.
Gordon lacks a certain size that Gordon needs to learn how to churn his feet forward instead of dropping back and looking for another hole on the outside, especially at the NFL level where defenses will make him pay for that indecision with negative yards. Part of that will also be turning Gordon into a true 1-cut rusher where he has a little more patience and can hit the hole with authority so he can run better inside the tackles. Will need to learn how to use his size to his advantage when running inside, rather than relying on his speed to carry him
He also needs to do a better job securing the ball as he has 7 fumbles in 14 games last season. Gordon will need to work on his route running and catching ability out of the backfield. Too often did I see him drag out a route or completely whiff on a catch attempt or double catch a ball. In order to be a complete back, he will need to improve his pass protection or he will find himself taken out of the game on third downs.
While there are more negative things than positives, the positives are so great that he warrants discussion as a first round rusher, likely around the spot where the Ravens will be selecting. The Ravens in specific could get away with not selecting a running back in this draft, but if Gordon is available at this spot and does well during the combine, he could pose a great fit and great advantage for the Ravens offense all while fitting the Ravens' BPA mentality. Utilizing the zone blocking scheme, a quarterback with one of the biggest arms in the league, and a coaching staff that has been able to turn running backs into stars, Gordon would do incredibly well in Baltimore for his career. Luckily, all of the negatives surrounding Gordon come from a lack of reps in a specific style rather than inherited flaws, meaning that whatever team selects Gordon could fairly easily fix those problems if they are targeted.
The likely scenario would be to see Gordon split carries with a veteran rusher for the first season, learn a little more about pass protection, and hone his instincts about rushing inside. His second year would see Gordon add on a little more mass and take over the starting spot completely. All of his tape has him looking like a pretty good clone of Jamaal Charles, which is quite a positive to say about the young prospect. If he can learn to run with his legs to gan a little more power, there would be comparisons to Demarco Murray as well.