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Broncos Roster Review: Running back Melvin Gordon III

Playing on a one-year contract with incentives, Gordon will be aiming to prove he can still share the No. 1 spot.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos signed running back Melvin Gordon to a one-year $2.5 million contract earlier this spring after his two-year, $16 million contract with the Broncos expired.

While the former Charger had received a mixed welcome from Broncos’ fans when then-GM John Elway signed the two-time Pro Bowler - largely due to his big contract as well as taking some spotlight from hometown favorite Phillip Lindsay - he’s won over many Broncos fans with his 4.5/yards per carry average the past two seasons.

Plus, although Gordon has been great in third-down, short-yardage situations for the Broncos, he’s usually good for at least a couple bursts that go 30+ yards too.

Player Profile

Melvin Gordon III | Running back | Broncos
Height: 6-1
Weight: 215 pounds
Age: 29 years old
Experience: 8th NFL season

How Melvin Gordon fits with the Denver Broncos

Last season the veteran running back ran for 918 yards - averaging 4.5 yards a carry - and eight touchdowns on 203 total carries. He also hauled in 28 passes for 213 yards and another two touchdowns to boot.

But he was the second back to run for more than 900 yards as rookie Javonte Williams served as an excellent complement in the rushing attack. Where Gordon has speed and finesse, Williams sports power and surge.

When George Paton took Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, there was speculation he would eventually take the RB1 spot. And while the rookie had a solid first year - and a host of Angry Runs to put on his resume - Gordon still proved he is a good fit for this Broncos’ offense needing different style RBs for an effective run attack.

New head coach Nathaniel Hackett will likely use the two once again to split carries, just as he did with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon in Green Bay.

Why I like Melvin Gordon in Denver

I have been one of the few who was excited from the get-go for Gordon to sign with Denver back in 2020 - even with the hefty contract.

For a running back, Gordon has been amazingly durable and consistent, even in years six and seven. His yards per carry average has hovered consistently over 4 yards - even with a constantly changing offensive line and QB room.

Although he’s had a few issues with the media and hasn’t always felt accepted by Broncos Country, Gordon has been a reliable addition in a paltry offense with horrible scheming the past two years.

His ability to roll with the punches - whether it’s coaching staffs, bad offensive schemes, angry fans, etc. - bodes well for him to continue being a workhorse alongside the up-and-comer Williams.

In fact, he recently told Paton when he was signing his one-year deal that he had no intention of “laying down.”

“I’ve always got that mindset that I’ve got to go get it every year,” he said, adding that he knows fans want him to take the backseat to Williams, just like many wanted him to do with Austin Ekeler at the Chargers and Philip Lindsay with the Broncos. “I just come out here and do my thing. Thanks for the motivation everybody, I appreciate y’all.’’

With an offensive-minded head coach and an elite quarterback, the Broncos running game behind Gordon and Williams should finally have a chance to flourish.

Also, Jon Heath of Broncos Wire pointed out that Gordon has a chance this season to join the Broncos’ record books.

Gordon’s 1,904 total yards over the last two seasons puts him at 15th on the team’s all-time rushing list. If he sustains that one-year average of 952 yards, he will be 10th with 2,856 yards, which is just behind C.J. Anderson who has 3,051 yards total.

Final Thoughts

Gordon, who seems to understand he is on the downhill of his NFL career, knows Williams is the future RB1A (if not already), but he’s content pushing “the young bull” while also working to keep his game strong.

“We’re gonna go crazy, man,” Gordon said recently on Good Morning Football. “We gotta go crazy. The young bull got so much talent, and we push each other every day in practice. We even got (Mike) Boone, who’s a good player, too, that’s going to help push us. I’m expecting the run game to be a lot better than it was last year for sure.”

In fact, Gordon and Williams both seem to relish the role of trying to one-up the other in a healthy competitive way.

Gordon noted that his teammate is a “phenomenal talent” who will “be a dog for years to come” and their competition against each other has made both better, noting that even in practice they are trying to outdo the other.

“If I go 30, he wanna go 30 or 35. … We try to outdo each other with everything, so that carries over,” Gordon added on GMFB. “That carries over when you’re competing, and you’ve got a guy like me that’s still hungry, and you’ve got a young bull that wants to show.”