On Thursday, March 19, 2020, the LA Rams released their star running back Todd Gurley. This was a shock to fans, as even Gurley tweeted “Damn I got fired on my day off.” I applaud his calm manner, because it does not seem there was anything he could have done to prevent it.
When we analyze the economic reasons, this decision seems inevitable. Gurley signed his contract long before the NFL decided that running backs are no longer the highest paid players of the team. Therefore Gurley was about to double his salary, which is no longer economically feasible for the Rams.
Previous injuries, including arthritis in his left knee, have greatly decreased Gurley’s performance on the field. His rushing yards went from 1251 yards to 857 yards. His offensive touchdowns dropped from 21 to 14. The Rams could not afford to keep Gurley on the team with such a high salary, when he simply is not the same player he was when he was recruited.
Without the Rams’ main running back, a vacuum is waiting to be filled, and plenty of hungry players are eager to fill it. The NFL draft is three weeks away, so let’s analyze some of the top candidates the Rams could draft to fill the spot.
One such running back is J.K. Dobbins, a graduate from Ohio State, who has many accomplishments under his belt. Dobbins was the first running back in Ohio State’s history to go over the 2,000 yard mark at 2,003 yards and 21 TD’s. Though his true grit is displayed by the staggering progress he has made since sophomore year. In his second year at Ohio State he only rushed 1,053 yards and scored 10 rushing TD’s. Anyone who can take disappointment and channel it into their work ethic is someone worth keeping an eye on.
Zach Moss, a running-back for Utah, is also a big contender. In his last collegiate season he was able to rush 1416 yards and score 15 TD’s. One of his trademark skills is his ability to slip right through the hands of the opposing team. Moss dodged an impressive total of 89 tackles last season. Secondly, Moss is consistent. Last season he scored one or more touchdowns in every game except for two.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire finished his season at LSU with a total of 1867 yards and 17 touchdowns. In 2019, Edwards-Helaire was voted as the 13th most valuable player by Pro Football Focus due to his success as a receiver. He too was able to slip out of 71 tackles last season. The NFL sports website predicts that Helaire will be a starter within his first two seasons of pro football.
These players all seem like promising candidates to fill Gurley’s shoes. However, those shoes do not necessarily need to be filled. The Rams’ still have three running backs with great potential. People tend to overlook Malcolm Brown, Darrell Henderson, and John Kelly. Brown has not been able to showcase his full potential because he often played behind Gurley. Henderson was drafted in 2019 and therefore still has a lot of un-seen potential. Kelly was part of the practice squad for last season and he has also not gotten much playing time in the regular season, so we have yet to see what he is capable of.
The teamwork between this trio of running-backs is a very promising replacement for the usual one main running back that the Rams have been used to. We look forward to seeing which young contenders, if any, rise to the spotlight and join the Rams in the rapidly-approaching NFL draft.