Really improved his ability to pick up yards after contact
Capable of controlling a game from start to finish
Ready to compete quickly
Pass blocking needs improvement
Pass-blocking diagnosis and technique
Ball security needs to improve
Needs to continue to get better as a receiver
Summary: Wisconsin has been a factory for NFL running games with offensive linemen and running backs. Among the halfbacks, Gordon is the best prospect who the program has produced as he is a more talented athlete than any of its other star backs. Montee Ball, James White, John Clay and many other Wisconsin backs who have been drafted in recent years, but Gordon is the best of the bunch.
What makes Gordon so special is rare speed. He has great first-step quickness and a second gear to take off like a bolt of lightning down the field. Gordon is difficult to catch once in the open field as he runs away from defenders. Gordon is extremely fast to hit the hole and accelerate to the second level of the defense. To go along with his great speed, Gordon has good balance, vision and cutting ability. He weaves his way around tacklers and is very hard to get a hold of.
Gordon was bigger and stronger year over year in 2014. That allowed him to add more power to his repertoire as he showed an improved ability to break tackles and pick up yards after contact. Gordon has quality size and has proven to be durable over the past three seasons.
The Kenosha, Wisconsin product stood out while backing up Ball and White in 2012. While Gordon didn't get a lot of opportunities, he made the most of his limited chances while averaging 10 yards per carry. Gordon ran for 621 yards and three touchdowns on only 62 carries as a freshman.
With Ball in the NFL, Gordon was one of the most explosive backs in the nation in 2013. He averaged 7.8 yards per carry for the year for 1,609 yards on only 206 carries and 12 touchdowns. If White hadn't taken carries away so Wisconsin would've allowed Gordon to reach 300 carries, he could have added on maybe another 1,000 yards.
Gordon has taken his game to another level this season. Halfway through the year, he became the first back in the nation to cross the 1,000-yard mark. Gordon has averaged 7.6 yards per carry in 2014 for 2,336 yards with 26 touchdowns. He also has 17 receptions for 151 yards and three scores. Gordon's amazing speed had him tied for the FBS record in career average in yards per carry with stellar mark of 8.26 yards per carry after a massive performance versus Bowling Green (13-253-5). He also set the NCAA single-game record in mid-November versus Nebraska with 408 yards on 25 carries with four touchdowns in only three quarters of playing time. It wasn't a perfect game, as Gordon had a couple of fumbles, but he overwhelmed the Cornhuskers in a manner that no back had in the history of the sport. Unfortunately for Gordon, his record was broken a week later. To start the season, Gordon illustrated his play-making ability with 140 yards on 16 carries against LSU.
Gordon timed a little bit slower than expected at the Combine with 4.52-second time in the 40-yard dash, but he did well in the field drills.
Gordon should make an immediate impact as a runner while an NFL rookie. He has three-down potential as he showed improvement as a receiver throughout his junior year. For the next level though, Gordon needs to improve his blitz protection but is willing and physical with defenders. He just needs to work on his technique at blocking blitzers and diagnosing where to pick them up. Another area Gordon can improve is ball security.
With his skill set, Gordon should be a starter as a rookie and quickly develop into a three-down feature back. He is a rare physical talent with good size and elite speed. Following a great junior season, Gordon is worthy of being a first-round pick and could become a Pro Bowler quickly in his NFL career.
Player Comparison: Chris Johnson. A number of analysts have compared Gordon to Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. That is a good comparison as well as the fast, shifty Gordon is similar to the Kansas City Pro Bowler. To me, the back who Gordon reminds me the most of is Chris Johnson in his good years with Tennessee. Both have elite speed with the ability to rip off long carries on any run. They aren't undersized and can be used in a variety of ways. Johnson was a late first-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, and Gordon could also go back in the half of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. In the NFL, I think Gordon is going to be a superb tailback similar to Johnson when he was running well for the Titans.
NFL Matches: Minnesota, Detroit, Baltimore, Atlanta, Houston, New England, New York Jets, Oakland, San Diego, Indianapolis
There are a lot of teams that could use Gordon, and the electric play-maker could cause some teams that don't have a huge need at running back to fall in love with him. Entering the offseason, there are a few franchises that have a screaming need at running back.
The Vikings could use a running back to pair with Jerick McKinnon in the long term. If they were to bring back Adrian Peterson, drafting Gordon wouldn't be necessary. Gordon would be a nice weapon for Norv Turner though and help give Teddy Bridgewater better looks in the passing game.
Staying in the NFC North, the Lions could use a feature back and have had one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL in 2014. Reggie Bush is nearing the end of the line, while Joique Bell is just a backup. With safeties playing back to defend Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Matthew Stafford, having a runner like Gordon to exploit those seven-man fronts could be huge for Detroit. Gordon would be a great fit with the Lions.
In the AFC East, the Patriots and Jets could both use a feature running back. Chris Johnson is nearing the end of his career, while Chris Ivory is better as a platoon back. New England has used a number of players, but Gordon could provide the team with a steady play-making presence in the backfield.
Houston could take a running back to pair with Arian Foster and eventually replace Foster as he closes in on 30 with a big contract. Since the Texans will miss out on a franchise quarterback, they better have a forceful running game. The Colts also need a replacement for Trent Richardson. Indianapolis would be very fortunate to land Gordon.
There are some landing spots for the AFC West as well. The Chargers can't rely on Ryan Mathews and need a more steady running game. Gordon could make sense for San Diego's first-round pick. The Raiders also need a starting running back as Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew are entering free agency and aren't long-term answers. Gordon probably won't get to Oakland's second-round pick, but if the organization trades back into the first round, Gordon could be a real asset for Derek Carr.
Atlanta could use a feature runner to replace the aging Steven Jackson, but the Falcons may wait until Day 2.