Georgia running back Todd Gurley is one of the most interesting draft prospects considering he was the best at his position in college football, but tore his ACL six games into the 2014 season and is on the road to recovery. What team, if any, will take him in the first round?
Based on needs, the immediate candidates appears to be the San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, especially since they all pick in the latter half of the first round.
Earlier in the offseason it was speculated Gurley would land with the Seattle Seahawks at No. 31, but the team has since signed running back Marshawn Lynch to a contract extension and traded out of the first round after acquiring tight end Jimmy Graham from the New Orleans Saints. With Gurley significantly progressing in his recovery, it's possible he goes as early as No. 17 to the Chargers.
ESPN Insider Todd McShay predicts that will be the case on Apr. 30 in his latest mock draft.
"Gurley might be too tempting to pass up," he writes. "The Chargers need a lead back with Ryan Mathews departing to the Eagles in free agency, and while Gurley brings durability concerns coming off of a torn ACL, he's one of the most talented players in this entire class with his blend of power and breakaway speed. He'd help take some pressure off of quarterback Philip Rivers."
It's certainly possible he goes that early considering he spoke with Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt of Sirius XM NFL Radio on Wednesday and detailed his progress with his recovery from the ACL injury.
"I'm feeling pretty good, the recovery's going pretty good," Gurley said. "I've been starting to run and do like backpedaling and stuff like that. It's been going pretty good, it's going smoothly.
"It's definitely a busy process to the draft, taking visits and all that, but everything is on schedule and good to go."
Gurley also acknowledged he visited the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, which was previously reported, but he did not disclose any other organizations.
"Out of respect I'm not going to say where I have been or where I'm going unless the team gives me confirmation to say something about it. I don't want to make anybody upset or have to cancel any visits for that."
He said when all is said and done, he will end up visiting 11 or 12 teams, which indicates the Cowboys and Patriots could be among those clubs. Dallas lost DeMarco Murray and signed Darren McFadden, but that might not be enough to solidify the backfield. The Patriots watched Shane Vereen sign with the New York Giats and don't seem intent on bringing back Stevan Ridley. Since they both pick late in the first round, Gurley could provide them with good value.
"The Cowboys could look to add a running back to pair with Darren McFadden following the departure of DeMarco Murray to the Eagles," adds McShay, who had Dallas taking Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon in his last mock draft.
McShay also noted Gurley or Gordon would be "intriguing" options if they were to fall to New England at No. 32.
The draft is less than a month away, so Gurley will have to wait until then to see if he gets taken in the first round.