Gurley leads running backs return to first round

By Alex Butler  |  Updated May 1, 2015 at 1:57 AM
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CHICAGO, April 30 (UPI) -- Todd Gurley's game was too good to pass up, even for a team with a skilled stable of sprinters and many other needs.

A running back hadn't been taken in the first round since 2012, but with the No. 10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the St. Louis Rams raced to the podium Thursday to shout that its selection would be the Georgia Bulldogs star.

A short time later, the San Diego Chargers traded its 2015 fourth-round and 2016 fifth-round picks and swapped first round picks with the San Francisco 49ers to select Wisconsin Badgers star runner Melvin Gordon at No. 15 overall.

The Rams drafted Tre Mason in the third round last year, as the sixth running back off of the board and at No. 75 overall. Mason started nine games last season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry and scoring five total touchdowns. Mason, 21, led the Rams with 765 rushing yards. Zac Stacy, 24, totaled 1,114 yards from scrimmage and scored eight times in 2013. Steven Jackson was the last Rams back to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards, when he ran for 1,045 in 2012.

Stacy tweeted "Yikes" shortly after Gurley was selected, but quickly deleted the tweet.

After the selection of Gurley, Stacy "plans to ask the team for his release or to be traded," according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.

Gurley totalled 1,430 yards from scrimmage and scored 16 touchdowns in 2013 at Georgia. He needed just six games last season to amass 911 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Gurley was suspended for four games for violating NCAA rules and tore his ACL in his first game back.

Gordon led the nation last year with 2,587 rushing yards and broke LaDainian Tomlinson's single-game NCAA record with 408 rushing yards last year against Nebraska.

Trent Richardson, Doug Martin, and David Wilson were the last running backs taken in the first round prior to Thursday. Mark Ingram went in the first round in 2011. Knowshon Moreno was the last Georgia running back to go in the first round, when the Broncos drafted him at No. 12 in 2011.

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