T.J. Yeldon & Todd Gurley: leading rookie running backs


T.J. Yeldon and Todd Gurley are the tops of their class so far this season. The top running back selection and the third running back selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, the two backs are getting it done on the ground in a way that their peers simply can’t compete with.

So far this season, Yeldon (406) and Gurley (444) are the only two rookie running backs with over 400 yards so far this season. It’s particularly impressive considering that both Gurley (two games) and Yeldon (one game) have both missed games this season.

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The next highest rookie is Melvin Gordon at 328 yards. He is averaging 3.9 yards per carry. While it is not unthinkable for Gordon to catch up even in one week, he’s lagging behind as the top two running backs continue to churn out big games.

I didn’t think it at the start of the season because Todd Gurley was still recovering from his college injury, but he is putting together a season that could compare with some of the best backs in the modern NFL and the best backs in the NFL, ever. He’s on a ridiculous pace at this point and 2000 yards is in reach if he can keep it up.

If Gurley plays at the same rate he has played over the last few games, it will be tremendously tough for T.J. Yeldon to catch up with him. Fortunately for Yeldon, it would be mind boggling for Gurley to keep up over 145 yards per game (which would be the best in league history through a season), so it may be tougher for Gurley to pull farther and farther ahead from Yeldon.

Both Yeldon and Gurley are doing a great job after contact is made, averaging 2.4 and 3.5 yards after contact, respectively. Both are forcing missed tackles on a regular basis, with 18 for Yeldon and 17 for Gurley.

All in all, the Jacksonville Jaguars and St. Louis Rams have to be satisfied with the way their early-round investments are paying off for the season.

With the Jaguars on a bye in Week 8, we’ll have to see if any of the other running backs can start to play catch up or if Gurley and Yeldon will remain atop the group.