There are some players whose talent transcends their surroundings and situation (Adrian Peterson). Unfortunately for 99% of players that is not the case. That's where the Talent, Situation and Opportunity Report comes in. The TSO Report puts an individual under the microscope and analyzes that player through three different lenses to determine their fantasy outlook:
Talent: What does the player bring to the table? Do they have any trump cards? Will an area of weakness prevent the player from reaching their potential?
Situation: Will the player be used correctly? Are they an integral part of a good offense? Do they fit the offensive scheme well? Is the arrow pointing up or down for the offense?
Opportunity: Where do they sit on the depth chart? Do they have a role carved out in their offense? Are they stuck behind an elite talent?
Name: Melvin Gordon
Weight: 215 LBS
Drafted: 1st Round, 15th Overall by San Diego in 2015
Experience: 2nd Season
2015 Season Stats: 184 Att, 641 Yards, 3.5 YPC, 0 TD, 33 Rec, 192 Yards, 0 TD
Unfortunately Melvin Gordon's first career NFL carry was a microcosm of his rookie season.
Gordon struggled to flash the traits and ability that made him a 1st round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and it's now uncertain if that time will ever come. In February it was reported that Gordon has the meniscus in his left knee repaired, which was expected. Gordon missed the final two games of his rookie season due to the injury. However, a couple weeks ago it was revealed that Gordon also had microfracture surgery on that same knee. Just like there is no such thing as a mild concussion, there is no such thing as a minor microfracture surgery. Microfracture surgery is when holes are poked (micro fractures, get it) in the bone to stimulate cartilage growth. It is never done as a preemptive measure to clean something up and has a 8-9 month recovery that requires extensive downtime. It has a 75-80% success rate. Travis Kelce and Vontaze Burfict are the biggest names to recently come back from it. Now seeing as Gordon had the procedure in January and the Chargers GM came out and said the size and location of the surgery were favorable then maybe there is hope Gordon is ready come week 1. I'm hesitant to believe that there is nothing to worry about and would hope the Chargers would proceed with caution with a 23-year old that they invested so much in.
As if the knee wasn't worrisome enough Gordon's fumbling issues followed him to the NFL as well. In 2015, MGIII coughed up the rock 6 times in all, losing 4. This ultimately led to him being benched twice during his rookie season.
On a more positive note, Gordon did impress as a receiver out of the backfield. Most of these receptions were simple down dumps or swing passes - in a way substituting for the anemic run game. Gordon's ability in the passing game, both as a receiver and pass blocker, were his biggest critiques coming out of Wisconsin. ESPN's, Todd McShay, graded Gordon out as "Below Average". Gordon quickly dispelled that notion and it's a great reminder to the scouting community that just because a player wasn't asked to do something doesn't mean they can't. Although he only had 22 receptions in college I thought there were pretty good examples of Gordon adjusting to balls and using proper hand technique when called upon.
Gordon never got rolling in the run game, for plenty of reasons that we'll touch on, but he did show glimpses of his electrifying burst to the second level and unique ability to put moves on defenders without really losing speed. Could Gordon have been more decisive on some runs, sure. That will hopefully come with time in the NFL but for playing behind a bunch of turnstiles masquerading as offensive lineman, he did an admirable job of getting what he could.