Summary: Gillislee spent the first three years of his college career as a backup to running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. After seeing what Gillislee did as a senior, his former coaches should be regretting having him on the bench so much. He carried the Gators' offense this season and was probably the MVP of a Florida team that surprised the country with an 11-2 record and four wins over top-15 teams.
Gillislee started off the season against Bowling Green by collecting 148 yards and two touchdownson 24 carries. He played the next week with an ankle injury, but still ran for 83 yards on 14 carries with two touchdowns in a road win at Texas A&M. Gillislee then carried Florida to a win over LSU with 146 yards and two touchdowns in a phenomenal performance. Gillislee had similar outing for 140 yards and two scores in a road victory over Florida State. The senior averaged 4.7 yards per carry in 2012 on his way to 1,152 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 16 passes for 159 yards and two scores.
Gillislee is extremely well-rounded as a player and a ball-carrier. He is a very decisive runner and doesn't dance behind the line of scrimmage. Gillislee simply makes one cut and quickly charges ahead. He has excellent cutting ability to dodge defenders and pick up positive yards.
Gillislee additionally has good enough speed to get to the second level of the defense. He is shifty and makes defenders miss while retaining deceptive power. Gillislee has the ability to run through arm tackles and pick up yards after contact.
In the passing-driven NFL, Gillislee is exactly what many NFL offensive coordinators are looking for. He is a good receiver out the backfield who can run routes in the short part of the field as well as going downfield. Gillislee has very good hands, and he is a better receiver than his totals indicate.
The NFL is going to love Gillislee's blocking ability given his excellence in blitz protection. He does a good job of reading the defense to pick up the right man. Gillislee fits up his blocks extremely well to hold his ground after the initial contact. His offensive coordinator and running backs coach are going to love Gillislee's ability to protect the quarterback.
Gillislee is more than a simple pass-blocker in that he is still an aggressive blocker when other ball-carriers have the ball. One example came in the LSU game when Gillislee had an astounding block where he blasted defensive end Sam Montgomery to the ground on a jet sweep.
Gillislee may be best as part of a running back stable at the next level. He just isn't the biggest of backs; giving him 300 carries a season may be too much of a load and will lead to him getting injured. Gillislee should, at very least, turn into a good third-down back. He should quickly take over that role. Gillislee should be on the field for the majority of plays in a passing offense.
Player Comparison: Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs stole Charles in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft. Charles (5-11, 200) is a touch undersized, but he is a quick back with a versatile skill set. Gillislee is the same with his well-rounded style to do anything a team could ask. Like Charles, Gillislee could go in the third round and reward the team that takes a chance on him.
NFL Matches: Cincinnati, Green Bay, Atlanta, Denver, Tennessee
Any team looking for running back depth could consider Gillislee on the second day of the 2013 NFL Draft or during the mid-rounds. Gillislee would be a good back in a stable of runners.
Cincinnati may have the biggest need at running back of any team in the NFL. If the Bengals don't use one of their first three picks on a back, the front office could consider Gillislee in the third round.
Gillislee would be a perfect fit in the Packers' offense. He would be a good pass-protector and receiver for Aaron Rodgers while also providing more downhill running ability for Green Bay. With his one-cut style, Gillislee wold be perfect in the team's zone-blocking scheme. Gillislee could be a nice impact pick in the mid-rounds.
The same goes for Atlanta, which runs a zone-blocking scheme that Gillislee would fit well. He also would be a good contributor in the Falcons' passing offense given his ability to protect the quarterback and catch passes. Atlanta has to replace Michael Turner and Gillislee could fill that role.
Denver head coach John Fox likes a running back-by-committee approach. Gillislee could combine with Ronnie Hillman in the long term to lead the Broncos' stable of backs. Tennessee could use another option to backup Chris Johnson, and Gillislee would be a good back to turn to if Johnson goes in another slump.