Melvin Gordon is a straight-up stud. There’s no debating that.
Over his five years in the league, Gordon has totaled 6,113 yards from scrimmage and scored 47 times; those are impressive numbers. As a running back, the 6’1″ 215-pound beast is not only powerful but elusive when he wants to be with a nose for the goal line. He’s almost undoubtedly an improvement in the pass blocking game and, when utilized correctly, Gordon is one of the best receivers out of the backfield in the NFL.
Melvin Gordon was a sexy signing for the Denver Broncos. You know his name, you’ve seen his game. And, hell, he puts touchdowns on the board; that’s easy to root for. On top of being a playmaker, the Broncos’ gain is the Chargers’ loss, just one day after LA signed away long-time Denver star Chris Harris Jr.
However, one could argue the signing of Graham Glasgow — who you may have never heard of before this week — was a more important signing for the Broncos than Gordon. Signing offensive linemen is never sexy, but it’s crucial for the strength of an offense.
Consider that Glasgow will be plugged into the right guard position and playing every snap, blocking for Gordon (and other backs) in the run game, while also protecting everyone’s favorite quarterback, Drew Lock.
When Denver decided to move away from Ron Leary, Glasgow became a necessity.
But, Melvin Gordon, no matter how sexy a signing, was unnecessary. And, in reality, a poor way to use cap space.
Why? Because the Broncos already have a starting running back in Phillip Lindsay.
It should be noted that Lindsay ran like a man possessed as a rookie before he broke his wrist, and even if his style was less explosive in 2019, he became the first Broncos back to gain 1,000 rushing yards in back-to-back seasons since Clinton Portis way back in 2002-03. In fact, hitting that milestone twice is something Gordon has never done.
Of course, there are questions surrounding Lindsay’s durability over the course of a career at only 5’8″ and 190 pounds. But, the kid still has a lot of life in his legs and has arguably been underutilized in his first two seasons with the Broncos.
Now, with Gordon as the No. 1 running back, we can expect Lindsay’s usage numbers to drop drastically from the 14 carries per game he saw last season.
To wit, Saquon Barkley saw 80 percent of the snaps in New York last season in Pat Shurmur’s offense. And, considering how much the Broncos are paying Gordon as well as his versatility, he may come close to those numbers in Denver this year.
That’s the second part of why signing Gordon was unnecessary; his $7 million cap hit this year would have been better spent elsewhere.
John Elway’s knocked this offseason out of the park, even before signing Gordon, by addressing needs. They needed Glasgow and backup quarterback Jeff Driskel. Trading for A.J. Bouye and Jurrell Casey were required to replace Chris and Shelby Harris. Justin Simmons had to be franchise tagged.
But the Broncos still have multiple needs, and running back wasn’t one of them.
Denver still needs a starting center — unless third-year prospect Patrick Morris (who?) really will be the starter at a crucial position — a starting cornerback, another defensive lineman and inside linebacker. Oh, and wide receiver depth, too.
Instead of Gordon, the Broncos could have possibly signed cornerback Prince Amukamara for around the same amount of money and instantly given Denver one of the best secondaries in the NFL. Amukamara isn’t a star, but he’s played under Vic Fangio as well as Ed Donatell before and he played with Bryce Callahan, who will be the slot cornerback if he’s healthy this year. At any rate, Amukamara is head and shoulders better than Isaac Yiadom, who is in line to start opposite of Bouye as of now.
Instead, Elway spent big bucks on a back who slumped last year.
Given his holdout at the beginning of the season, playing in only 12 games, he still had a decent season with 612 rushing yards and eight scores, with 296 receiving yards and one touchdown through the air. That was while sharing time with Austin Ekeler. With a full season and likely a higher percentage of snaps, can Gordon come closer to the 100 yards from scrimmage per game he averaged from 2016 and 2018?
One thing is for sure: The Broncos offense has no excuse if it’s boring this year, adding another playmaker to a group of Lindsay, Courtland Sutton, Noah Fant and Lock.