As numerous collegiate athletes dare to dream ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft, this week I decided to take a closer look at the 2015 'Offensive Rookie of the Year', Todd Gurley.
The 21 year-old Georgia Bulldogs running back was the 10th overall pick in last year's NFL Draft. Selected to provide youth and exuberance to a stagnating Rams offence, Gurley was poised for big things.
However, while other NFL rookies approached their first professional pre-season with an eagerness to compete and prove their worth on the field, Gurley began life in St. Louis rehabilitating the torn ACL he suffered during his final year with Georgia. This injury, and subsequent recovery process, led doctors to diagnose his debut no sooner than the halfway point of the season.
Thankfully, Gurley managed a full and miraculous recovery by the time Pittsburgh came to town in Week 3. And while Rams head coach Jeff Fisher opted to ease his prized pick into the lineup for this encounter, what transpired the following week caught everybody by surprise.
Playing an undefeated Cardinals outfit, Gurley produced a stunning 146 yards from 19 carries. Bruce Arians' defence simply couldn't handle the 6'1" power runner and it showed on countless occasions. The following three matches against the Packers, Browns and 49ers respectively saw Gurley average 136 rushing yards per game. Gurley's ability to read the block and execute the necessary cuts into space often left the opposing secondary with little hope.
But while Gurley's numbers dipped during a five game losing streak suffered between Weeks 6-10, the Baltimore-born rookie still managed to close out the season with his first Pro Bowl selection. Gurley's 1,106 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns for the season also made him just the second Ram, behind Eric Dickerson, to ever achieve such a feat during their rookie year.
This remarkable run of form led the young Ram to finish the regular season as the league's third-best running back behind Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin respectively. Now, with no signs of injury barring him from a full preseason, Todd Gurley looks set to deliver an even bigger season this second time around.
The newly-relocated Los Angeles Rams will enter the 2016 season with high hopes of breaking that elusive .500 mark. And with Todd Gurley coming off the shotgun alongside a revamped offence, who's to doubt them?
The first game of the 2016 season will take place on the 8th of September.