Melvin Gordon: Leading rookie rushing title contenders

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Aug 5, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Melvin Gordon (28) participates in a drill as running backs coach Ollie Wilson watches during minicamp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Melvin Gordon is a top-flight NFL running back just entering his first season in the league.

While just a rookie, Gordon is in a prime position to contest the 2015 rushing title. He leads a strong group of rookie running backs from the 2015 NFL Draft that can all make a case to be the rushing champion this season.

From Gordon to Todd Gurley to T.J. Yeldon to Duke Johnson, the running backs entering the NFL this season are pretty stacked. All of them could be offensive rookie of the year contenders and even those players in less than ideal situations are talented enough to prove effective.

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But we aren’t just concerned with being the best rookie offensively, but with being the best running back in the NFL, period.

It’s rare for a rookie running back to win the rushing title. The NFL hasn’t had a rookie running back lead the NFL in rushing since 1999 when Edgerrin James put up 1553 yards for the Indianapolis Colts. James wasn’t just a one-year wonder, either. He repeated the feat the following year in 2000.

The 2015 rookies will have plenty of competition. Since 2008, six different running backs have won the rushing title (Adrian Peterson won it twice in 2008 and 2012). All of them, with the exception of Maurice Jones-Drew (2011) are still in the NFL and still present a threat to win the title in 2015.

The average number of yards needed to win the rushing title since 2008 is 1791 yards. Melvin Gordon and company are capable to getting near that number in 2015.

Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, and DeMarco Murray are not slouches and they won’t let a rookie win the title without a fight.

Still, the following players all have a chance to win it in 2015.

Next: Melvin Gordon tops our list