Melvin Gordon had a forgettable rookie season, but the San Diego Chargers running back has bounced back in 2016 and become one of the NFL’s best rushers. Most glaringly, he’s clearly surpassed Todd Gurley as the best back from the 2015 NFL Draft.
Before last year’s draft, there was a ton of debate over who the best running back in the class was. Most sided with the well-rounded Gurley, while some preferred the speedy Gordon. Ultimately, Gurley was selected 10th and the Bolts took Gordon with the 15th pick.
After their rookie years, it looked the Gurley was far and away the better back. Now more than midway through their sophomore campaigns, Gordon has clearly run away with the competition.
On Sunday Gordon had the best game of his career. He rushed for 196 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries (6.1 yards per carry) while adding 65 yards on four receptions. He also broke a key third down run when the Chargers were attempting to put the Tennessee Titans away.
Despite rolling his ankle two plays earlier, Gordon re-entered the game on third and seven and broke off a 47-yard scamper to all but ice the game. The Chargers held on to win 43-35.
After a disastrous rookie season where he only rushed for 641 yards, averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and didn’t find the end zone, Gordon has broken out this year. After Sunday’s contest he has now rushed for 786 yards and nine scores on 193 carries (4.1 yards per carry), while adding 284 yards and two touchdowns on 28 receptions.
Gordon has topped 100 yards in back-to-back games, and has been over 100 total yards in three straight (four weeks ago he almost got there with 94).
Meanwhile, Gurley had a phenomenal rookie season and has disappeared in 2016 for the Los Angeles Rams. Last year he rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 4.8 yards per carry average, and had 188 yards on 21 receptions. Through eight games this season he’s rushed for just 451 yards on 146 carries (3.1 yards per carry), and has 25 receptions for 194 yards. He has found the end zone a total of three times in the eight games he’s played in this year, and hasn’t broken the 100-yard mark as a rusher.
Gurley is struggling as part of a terrible offense and a non-existent offensive line, but let’s not act like Gordon has stellar talent protecting him. The Chargers boast one of the league’s worst lines and the team’s skill position players have been devastated by injuries. Gordon is just running more decisively than Gurley this season and that’s the biggest difference.
Gurley is too talented not to bounce back eventually, but for now, Gordon is the better running back.