Todd Gurley, the Los Angeles Rams running back recently won his first rookie of the year award with the Pro Football Writers of America naming him their winner. This could easily be just the beginning of multiple awards, including being the top pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Last season, Odell Beckham Jr. produced one of the most electrifying rookie seasons in recent memory. In only 12 games, the LSU product racked up 91 receptions (T-9th in the league), 1,305 receiving yards (10th) and 12 touchdowns (T-4th), putting the league on notice with four straight 100-yard games with at least one touchdown to end the season.
Todd Gurley put up similarly impressive statistics for the St. Louis Rams in 2015 but isn’t getting quite as much attention for it. Maybe it’s because he didn’t have a signature play that went viral, or because he peaked in the middle of the season (after missing St. Louis’ first two games) rather than at the end.
Make no mistake, however: Gurley impacted the Rams this year just as much as Beckham sparked the 2014 New York Giants, if not more so.
Despite missing three games, the 21-year-old (!) ranked third among running backs in yards (1,106), fifth in touchdowns (10) and sixth in yards per carry (4.8).
The 6-foot-1, 225-pound wrecking ball proved he could be explosive in the open field and powerful in the trenches. Gurley ranked third with 657 yards after contact and had three carries of 50-plus yards, tied for the most in the NFL with Doug Martin, who recorded 59 more rushing attempts. The Georgia product also ranked second with 11 carries of 20-plus yards, behind only Martin.
Not much is being written about Gurley at the moment, perhaps because he was sidelined for St. Louis’ finale against San Francisco due to turf toe. That’s a damn shame, because if he was healthy, Gurley probably would have lit up the 49ers‘ shoddy run defense to add to his gaudy season totals and head into the offseason with some momentum.
It’s really no surprise Gurley sustained an injury after Rams coach Jeff Fisher essentially ran him into the ground. All things considered, the rookie was amazingly efficient while operating in the league’s worst aerial attack, which topped 200 passing yards just four times.
Since the Rams unsurprisingly missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record, we’ll have to wait quite a while to see Gurley’s legs churn through overmatched defenders again. The scary thing for St. Louis’ 2016 opponents is that Gurley, who’s seemingly the favorite to follow in Beckham’s footsteps and win Offensive Rookie of the Year, had to sit out all of the 2015 preseason as he recovered from a torn ACL he sustained during college.
If the Rams can cobble together a competent passing game to complement their dynamite tailback next season — that means no more Nick Foles under center — there’s a good chance Gurley will top his fantastic debut campaign.