On a quiet day in the middle of the offseason, I feel as though it's important to argue back against those that have lately been saying that Melvin Gordon had a good rookie season for the San Diego Chargers and can be expected to be good in 2016.
For a moment, let's look past the fact that the team should not have traded up in the 1st Round of the 2015 NFL Draft to select a running back. Let's look at what the scouts were saying about Gordon before he was selected:
COMPARES TO: Reggie Bush, Lions. Bush's sheer athleticism and speed allowed him to dominate college football much like Gordon did. While Bush is shiftier, Gordon is stronger, but both guys catch the ball extremely well and have similar body types. Neither had to do much work at the line of scrimmage in college in terms of identifying the hole and being patient. Much like this has hurt Bush in the NFL, it could hinder Gordon.
Another recent 1st Round draft pick that struggled to identify holes and be patient? Trent Richardson. That's a comparison that wasn't quite made until after the start of Gordon's rookie season.
Let's take a look at how Gordon stacks up to these comparables in their rookie campaigns.
So, Gordon ranks as the worst of the three in terms of games played, yards per attempt, rushing touchdowns, yards per reception, receiving touchdowns, and receptions.
Gordon's pass-blocking was below-average for the entire season, and he missed the last two games of the season with an injury.
It's probably worth noting that, without that injury, Gordon likely would've broken the rookie record for the most carries in a season without scoring a touchdown. He finished with 184 carries, just 4 shy of Preston Carpenter's record season from 1956.
Reggie Bush and Trent Richardson both got worse in their 2nd seasons, not better.
C.J. Spiller makes for an interesting comparison to Melvin Gordon, but he wasn't used as the Buffalo Bills' primary RB until after he had already been in the league for a few years.
If Melvin Gordon finds a way to be one of the league's top running backs, which he will need to be to be worth the three draft picks the team gave up for him, behind roughly the same starting offensive line that he had last season....it will be a surprise, to say the least.