(SportsNetwork.com) - At its core, the NFL Draft is nothing more than a risk/reward ratio involving human commodities rather than inanimate ones.
Unlike investing, though, the assumption that the potential return rises with an increase in risk is not necessarily true, and that's what teams will be weighing when they think about selecting talented Georgia running back Todd Gurley.
There have been 64 first-round picks in the NFL Draft since the New York Giants tabbed David Wilson with the final selection of the opening round of the 2012 draft. The running-back fraternity is 0-for-64 over that span, a stunning dry spell that speaks to the current mindset of the NFL.
People always like to talk about the salary-cap era but the league has actually transformed into a far more targeted groupthink. Call it the allocating-assets generation, an age where a position like running back has been downgraded and labeled as less important than say quarterback, edge rusher, offensive tackle or shutdown corner.
Gurley, however, is such a transcendent prospect, he was undoubtedly going to end that running-back slump on April 30. In fact the Baltimore native had a very good chance of being the first back to reach top-10 status since the disappointing Trent Richardson was taken third overall in '12, at least until Gurley suffered a torn ACL in November of last year.
"I was a little bit worried," Gurley said of the injury. "It was kind of sad, but at the end of the day I had to be positive about the injury and move on and just let this motivate me to get back and take all the anger out when I get back."
Gurley need not worry, at least too much.
He is still going in the first round and there remains a very good chance that he will be the first back selected, although Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon also rates as a first-day pick and is a much safer option despite the fact his ceiling as a prospect doesn't reach nearly as high as Gurley's.
"I feel like this class is definitely deep for the running back position and we have a lot of talented guys," Gurley said. "I want to be a No. 1 pick. We'll see how everything goes. I'm just trying to get my knee back right and just show the teams that I can come back healthy."
At 6-foot-1 and a solid 222 pounds, Gurley piled up 3,285 yards on 510 totes (6.4 yards per carry) for the Bulldogs over three seasons, adding 65 catches out of the backfield for another 615 yards and amassing 42 total touchdowns.
Many NFL scouts have compared Gurley's powerful running style to Seahawks star Marshawn Lynch and believe he's the best overall prospect at the position since Adrian Peterson arrived in Minnesota back in '07. The fact that Peterson's MVP season started just nine months after he tore his ACL is also not lost on Gurley.
"I'm definitely not Adrian Peterson. I mean, that guy is a freak of nature," Gurley said. "But my goal is to be a freak of nature as well and try to get back as fast as possible. But I'm not going to rush anything."
Gurley won't be cleared until mid-August and durability is always a concern at his position, especially with a back known for lowering his pads, squaring his shoulders and bowling over defenders.
There is little concern, however, over Gurley's troubles for taking $3,000 over a two-year period for signing autographs, something which prompted the "Todd Gurley bill" in the Georgia State Senate. Rep. Barry Fleming, a Georgia grad, proposed the bill, passed by the Senate last week, which makes it a crime to bribe or entice student athletes to break NCAA rules by taking money.
On-the-field, the concerns with Gurley involve when the ball isn't in his hands, something he is keenly aware of.
"My weaknesses in my game is definitely anything without the ball," He admitted. "I definitely can learn a lot from pass protection. I might not do it correctly sometimes, but I definitely have the heart to do it."
Back at the NFL's scouting combine in February, 24 of the league's 32 teams took time to speak with Gurley even though he wasn't able to do anything physically.
And the fact he remains a no-doubt-about-it, first-rounder in waiting despite a serious knee injury at a position that's been devalued speaks to just how good Gurley is.
"I just know the way I work, what type of back I am and what type of player I've become over the past couple of years," he said. "I'm going to work as hard as possible to get back and be that guy when I come back."
The Sports Network's top 10 running backs:
1. - Todd Gurley, Georgia
2. - Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin
3. - Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska
4. - Jay Ajayi, Boise State
5. - Duke Johnson, Miami-Florida
6. - David Johnson, Northern Iowa
7. - Tevin Coleman, Indiana
8. - Jeremy Langford, Michigan State
9. - David Cobb, Minnesota
10. - T.J. Yeldon, Alabama