Each week throughout the season, I’ll cover at least two rookies in the Rookie Report Card and try to always include the biggest performers from that particular week. On top of reviewing my expectations for each player coming into the league and covering how he’s performed at the NFL level to this point, I’ll actually give him a grade in three categories. Those categories are performance to date, 2015 potential and long term upside.
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Todd Gurley, RB STL
Week Five Stats: 30 carries, 159 rushing yards, zero touchdowns
Despite a gruesome injury sustained a year ago which kept him out of action for most of his final year in college, the entire pre-season and the first two weeks of the regular season, Gurley has looked every bit worth the high draft pick the Rams and dynasty owners spent on him.
Coming into the league as one of the most touted runners in recent memory, Gurley possessed all the skills to be a true workhorse tailback. With an incredible mixture of speed and power, he can pound the ball between the tackles as well as get the edge on perimeter runs. And with excellent vision and the incredible ability to the wait for running lanes to develop before blasting through them with impressive quickness, he truly looks like the next great fantasy tailback.
With incredible explosion through the hole, Gurley runs behind his pads and delivers a blow when confronted by linebackers. Far too strong to bring down with arm tackles, he breaks free from defenders that fail to square themselves and wrap up with powerful leg drive and a downhill running style.
Gurley is at his best when reaching the second level of the defense. His ability to change directions without losing speed to cut back on safeties coming down in run support is eye popping especially when you consider his size (6’-1”, 222 lbs.). With the vision to see open running space before it develops, he has an incredible ability to spring an inside run to the boundary and the speed to outrun the pursuit once he reaches the open field.
Although Gurley wasn’t able to participate in any field activities at the combine or the Georgia Pro Day and was unlikely to be ready for action by opening day of the NFL schedule due to the ACL tear he suffered against Auburn last season, dynasty owners kept the faith in Gurley as he was selected in the top three picks of nearly every rookie draft this off-season.
Through 55 NFL carries, that faith is being rewarded handsomely.
After getting his feet wet with six carries for nine and a reception for five yards in week three against the Steelers, Gurley has taken over as the Rams’ workhorse running back. In week two in Arizona he carried 19 times for 146 yards (7.7 yards per carry), most of which coming in the second half as St. Louis iced a victory. Then in week five he ran 30 times for 159 yards (5.3 ypc) against Green Bay on a day where the Rams were playing from behind for much of the game.
Over the last two weeks Gurley has dominated as an interior runner. Showing the patience and vision that made his so effective while in college, he’s displayed an effective side-step on multiple occasions to hop into running lanes before accelerating through the hole. Also showing great endurance in each game, it seemed as if he gets better as the game goes on and as the defense tires – which has been the trait of many great runners before him.
For those of you that have read each Rookie Report Card so far this year, you know I like to highlight some of the best plays by each rookie that’s featured. After watching every carry by Gurley so far in his young career however, it’s difficult to pick out his “best” run – and that’s certainly not a negative. In fact, it’s a very big positive.
Gurley runs with the same urgency, explosiveness and power on every play. He never takes plays off, always looks to gain extra yardage after contact, and finishes runs as well as nearly every runner in the league. Needless to say, Gurley’s last two weeks have been as impressive as any rookie runner’s over the last decade.
As it appears, the Rams have every intention of featuring Gurley as the primary weapon on their offense whether they’re leading in a game or they’re in catchup mode – which should be music to the ears of dynasty owners. Although he hasn’t scored yet and hasn’t been a big part of the St. Louis passing attack, he should get opportunities in both roles as his rookie season continues. As long as he stays healthy, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t continue to see 20-plus carries each week.
As a long-term asset, it’s hard to find a better one than Gurley – particularly at running back. Outside of Le’Veon Bell, there isn’t a tailback I’d rather own at this point and dynasty owners should anticipate him being locked in as first round pick in startups going forward.
Ty Montgomery, WR GB
Week Five Stats: four catches, 59 receiving yards and one touchdown on five targets
I’ll admit it. I wasn’t a fan of Montgomery before the draft.
During the months leading up to the draft, I watched Montgomery on many occasions. I kept reading others that talked about his quickness as a route runner and ability to get open as both a slot receiver and outside threat.
I tried each time I watched him to see what so many others did in the former Stanford wide out but failed each time. I even featured Montgomery in the weeks leading up to the draft as a potential bust in the Rookie Bust Mock Draft we do each year here on DLF. Here is what I wrote:
“Montgomery looks more like a kick returner than a wide receiver. Despite looking the part of a solid wide out at 6’ tall and 221 pounds, he’s not a sharp route runner and drops far too many passes to be relied upon in that area. At this point he’s being taken near the end of round three in rookie drafts. Unless you’re in a league where return yards are a big part of the scoring system, Montgomery will likely be a big fantasy disappointment.”
Needless to say, I scratched my head when the Packers selected him in the third round of the draft.
As training camp and the pre-season progressed, I started coming around on Montgomery as a dynasty prospect. (Thankfully in time to acquire him via trade in a couple leagues.) I came around on him partly because of the injury to Jordy Nelson and partly because I saw him gaining chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, but mostly because he looked like a completely different receiver running routes than the one I saw on film in the off-season.
Throughout his time with the Packers, Montgomery has shown sharp route running skills – both from the slot and as an outside receiver. On his 31-yard touchdown on Sunday he lined up stacked in the slot to the right of Rodgers and ran a slant. Rodgers hit him in stride and he raced for the score. On his other touchdown this year, he lined up wide left and ran a sharp in-route five-yards down field before slamming on the breaks and retreating back to the sideline where Rodgers hit him and he dove into the corner of the end zone.
So far as a rookie, Montgomery has hauled in 13 passes for 125 yards and those two touchdowns while being on the field for nearly 60% of the Packers’ offensive plays. Although those numbers aren’t jaw dropping and he likely wouldn’t have any of those catches if not for injuries to Nelson and Davante Adams, he’s established himself in the short term as a starting lineup worthy receiver but only in leagues that start four or more wide outs.
As a long-term asset, I’m really starting to believe Montgomery has upside. The trust that Rodgers has shown in him is rare and Rodgers has displayed the ability to take receivers to the next level. Although there are obvious concerns with playing time once Green Bay’s receivers are at full health, the playing time Montgomery is getting right now will do nothing but accelerate his learning curve.
He may have to split playing time for the next couple years but I could see Montgomery taking the same career path as Nelson – who was an understudy to Donald Driver, Greg Jennings and James Jones before taking over as one of Rodgers’ primary receivers.
Dynasty owners may have to wait a couple years for him to realize his full potential as a WR2, but any third round rookie pick that turns into that kind of dynasty asset is well worth the wait.
- Final Dynasty Rookie Report Card: Wide Receivers, Part Two - March 22, 2023
- 2023 NFL Scouting Combine: Offensive Player Dynasty Review - March 10, 2023
- Final Dynasty Rookie Report Card: Wide Receivers, Part One - February 25, 2023