The then-St. Louis Rams made him the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He was the league’s offensive rookie of the year for a club that won just seven games that season. He followed that up with a so-so second campaign that saw his yards per carry go from 4.8 during his debut season to 3.2 in 2016.
And then running back Todd Gurley was “introduced” to new head coach Sean McVay and he and the team’s fortunes changed dramatically. For most of the next two seasons, the former University of Georgia standout put up amazing numbers as an all-purpose threat. In ’17, he ran for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns and caught 64 passes for 788 yards and six scores. It added up to 2,093 yards from scrimmage, 19 total TDs and the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award.
A season later, Gurley would battle injuries late in what proved to be the Rams’ Super Bowl LIII campaign. He would sit out the final two games of the regular season. But not before racking up 1,831 yards from scrimmage and 21 trips to the end zone. He would return for the postseason and run for 115 yards and one score on 16 carries in a win over the Cowboys. But he was limited and ineffective vs. the Saints and Patriots. And then the “A” word came up, as in arthritic knee.
Still, over that two-year stretch, the talented performer amassed 3,924 yards from scrimmage and 40 TDs on 658 total touches in those aforementioned 29 regular-season outings. Gurley actually played and started 15 games this past season. And he finished with 14 total touchdowns. But he finished with just 1,064 yards from scrimmage and his longest play of the year covered just 25 yards.
So the Rams opted to part ways with the three-time Pro Bowler and the Atlanta Falcons wasted little time inking him to a one-year deal. Will a return to the state of Georgia add up to good things? Is Gurley healthy enough to improve an offense that finished with the third-fewest rushing yards in the league this past season? Dan Quinn’s club invested a lot of time and draft choices on the offensive line a year ago and quarterback Matt Ryan could use the support. It’s a bit of a gamble for the Falcons if health is really a concern and opinions have varied on that subject. But the payoff could be huge.