Todd Gurley Is Gone. Now, What Do The Rams Do At Running Back?

What are the Rams going to do with Todd Gurley and his giant contract? We found out. They cut him, very unceremoniously. In many ways, it’s sad that the Rams had to move on from the 25-year-old running back. He amassed quite the resume over his five seasons with the Rams; Rookie of the Year, three-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro selection, and 2017 Offensive Player of the Year. But, as they say, football is a business and paying a king’s ransom for an RB with a bum knee is bad for business.

The Rams have answered that big looming question about Todd Gurley, but now what? What options do the Rams now have to replace Gurley?

Currently on the roster: Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown

Having these two backs on the roster doesn’t sufficiently answer the question of who to move into the starting role. Neither has shown with any clarity that they are the heir apparent.  Each possesses good qualities, but neither are as well rounded as Gurley was in his prime.  

Brown is a quality pass blocker, but, in all reality, has never really been used as an offensive weapon. His career totals in all categories are lower than what Gurley produced in any given year. That being said, a pass-blocking back is very important to Sean McVay and Jared Goff

Conversely, Darrell Henderson showed some potential in his rookie season, but pass blocking has never been his skill set. At Memphis, Henderson’s job was to move the ball downfield. And that is exactly what he did. In his final season, he averaged 8.9 yards per carry, for a total of 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns. 

It’s hard to judge his pro football abilities given the small sample size, Henderson only played 8% of offensive snaps last season.  It is clear that as a Tiger, Henderson was one of the most potent college running backs of all time. Unfortunately, the AAC is not the NFL and Henderson will have to prove he can rush and block to truly move into Gurley’s role. 

Given the binary skill sets of these two backs, the Rams still have to add another back to have an effective running game. It is apparent that the Rams believe in both backs and if they are committed to keeping both, they should look to the San Francisco model; Use several running backs to keep the defense off kilter. Of course, this means the Rams would have to add one or two more running backs to the team and do so on-the-cheap. 

Add Via Trade

The Rams have made Brandin Cooks available for trade. Which should garner some interest with several teams in need of a receiver. Unfortunately, trading an offensive weapon for another offensive weapon is football’s equivalent to taking your cousin to the prom. You probably just shouldn’t do it. There is a chance that he could be moved for a first round pick, perhaps Minnesota’s 22nd or the Las Vegas’ #12 which would put the Rams in a better position to draft a top flight running back.

Add Via Free Agency

Carlos Hyde

Hyde is a meat and potatoes runner and a great pass blocker. Which is exactly what the Rams need. His only drawback is that he is no longer a spring chicken. After departing San Francisco in 2017, he has played for three teams in two seasons. He started 14 games in 2019 for Houston and played very well. He posted his first 1,000 yard season and averaged over four yards a carry for the first time since 2016.

In his time with the 49ers he was becoming known as a good pass catcher, but since then has been thrown to just over once a game. Despite his performance, the Texans have cut Hyde. 

It wouldn’t even be considered a gamble for the Rams to add a 1,000-yard rusher. Since he has flown under the radar for the last few seasons, they will get him for a lower price tag than other free agents. 

Dion Lewis

Lewis was exceptional for exactly one season with the New England Patriots, then they sent him packing. He was picked up by the Titans where he became back up to the fastest rising star in the NFL, Derrick Henry. So as of now, at the age of 29, Dion Lewis again finds himself unemployed and severely underrated.

In his three years with the Patriots he averaged 4.7 yards per carry. In 2017, when his playing time was more than doubled, he rose to the occasion. He rushed for 896 yards, six touchdowns, and 49 first downs. In addition to that, he caught 32 passes for 214 yards, three touchdowns, and 11 first downs. 

Lewis hasn’t been given a shot with a good team and the Rams should be that team. He would be a solid back with veteran experience and won’t break the bank.

Add Via The Draft

This is actually not a great option for the Rams. Their first pick doesn’t come until nearly the end of the second round and they should be using their picks to patch up a recently disemboweled defense and shore up their beleaguered offensive line. That being said, if Sean McVay is dead set on picking up rushing talent in the draft there is talent to be found in the second round and third rounds. 

Zack Moss

Mock drafts have Moss going anywhere between the first and third rounds. If he is still available by the 84th pick, he would be a no brainer for the Rams. Seeing Moss in the late third round isn’t inconceivable. His combine performance didn’t make him stand out, but the good news is that falls in line with his most common comp, Marshawn Lynch. Like Lynch, Moss runs with power, patience, and vision. Those are skills that don’t translate in the combine. That, in addition to the flashy, faster running backs in the mix this year could put Moss in the third round. 

Moss would be a good addition to the current rostered talent. Ideally, he would split time with Henderson to diversify their running game. The pairs running styles would complement one another. With Henderson on early downs, swinging for home runs and Moss coming in for short yardage downs or goal-line situations to punch it in. 

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

CEH isn’t going to be available by the third round, so if the Rams are truly committed to improving the run game they will have to take him with the 52nd pick. Edward-Helaire is 5’7” and 207lbs. So, he is short, but by no means is he small. His lower center of gravity makes him tough to tackle, but can also make tacklers miss with quickness and finesse. His quickness translates laterally and downhill. He has a nose for the sticks and the pylon, 36% of his carries were for first downs or touchdowns. 

CEH is also a threat as a pass-catcher. One of the biggest statistical drops concerning Todd Gurley was as a receiver. At his apex in 2017, Gurley caught 64 passes for 788 yards, 12.3 yards per catch. Half of those catches resulted in a first down and six were touchdowns. In 2019, those statistics were all essentially halved. The biggest statistical drop was first downs, going from 32 to 8.

From a physicality standpoint, Gurley and Edwards-Helaire couldn’t be more different. From a production standpoint, CEH could be the Rams best option to actually replace peak Gurley. 

Ryan Anderson

Author Ryan Anderson

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