INDIANAPOLIS – Georgia running back Todd Gurley had a surprising draft goal: He wants to be first pick overall.
"I want to be the No. 1 pick," Gurley said.
Never mind that a running back hasn’t gone in the first round in either of the last two drafts. That doesn’t bother him.
“I’m not here to be No. 5 overall or a second-round pick,” Gurley said. “I want to be the best.
“I know what I can do. I can come in and help a team. That might sound ridiculous, but that’s the confidence I have in myself.”
You have to respect his confidence, although his goal is obviously not realistic, even if he was healthy.
And it's Gurley's health that makes him a question going into the draft. An ACL injury suffered last November makes him a tougher evaluation.
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If he was healthy he’d be the first back off the board, no matter how great Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon was last season. Gurley is 6-foot-1, 222 pounds and runs with tremendous power and agility. If he came along 10 years earlier, in an era in which teams still used high picks on running backs, a healthy Gurley would probably be a top-five pick. He's everything you want in a back.
After the ACL surgery? It’s tougher to predict. He is just starting light jogging and he said there was likely no chance he’d be working out at Georgia’s pro day on March 18. Teams might not get a chance before the draft to see how Gurley is moving after his surgery. The uncertainty might be one reason Gurley has a whopping 24 interviews scheduled at the combine. Teams have more questions for him now than before Nov. 15, when he tore his ACL.
“I’m just trying to get back safe, but as quick as possible,” Gurley said.
Gurley said he has a six-to-nine month recovery period, and if he’s on the fast side of that recovery he should be fine for training camp. He'll need all the time he can get to acclimate himself to the NFL game and contribute as a rookie, but he'll need to be healthy first.
Many players have returned with no issues from ACL surgery, and Gurley didn’t seem worried about returning strong. He was asked about Adrian Peterson, who rushed for nearly 2,100 yards the season after coming back from ACL surgery.
“Adrian Peterson, I mean, that guy is a freak of nature,” Gurley said. “But my goal is to be a freak of nature as well.”
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