Just three years ago, the Los Angeles Chargers had one of the worst rushing attacks in the NFL.
But due to the development of Melvin Gordon and the sudden emergence of scat-back Austin Ekeler, the Chargers now obtain one of the leagues elite backfields. However, even with all this talent, the Chargers talented tailbacks remain one of the few aspects of the team that haven’t been advertised this offseason. But to honestly evaluate the skill sets of these halfbacks, we must take a more in-depth look at them individually.
A former first-round pick out of Wisconsin, Melvin Gordon had a less than impressive start to his career. In his rookie season, Gordon failed to score a single touchdown, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. However, over the past two seasons, Gordon has rushed for over 2,100 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 3.9 yards per carry. Although there is still room for improvement in terms of every down efficiency, this type of production is great for a third-year power back who can also break off 20+ runs every now and then. Another big improvement Gordon has made to his game is becoming more involved out of the backfield. Racking in nearly 500 receiving yards and four touchdowns, all reports from Chargers camp say they’ve been working to get Gordon even more involved in Los Angeles’ passing game. If this is true, and Melvin Gordon continues to improve, he should develop into one of the leagues top tier running backs.
Coming out of Western Colorado State, there were very few expectations for Austin Ekeler when he went undrafted in 2017. However, after an impressive training camp/preseason campaign last year, the Chargers not only kept Ekeler on the roster but moved him up to RB2, giving him a chance to prove himself against real competition. And to say the least, Ekeler showed out. Ending the season with over 500 yards from scrimmage, Ekeler averaged 5.5 yards per carry, 10.3 yards per reception, and scored six touchdowns. Great efficiency, it’s also worth noting that Ekeler wasn’t even given a real chance until week four of the regular season, and even then, his opportunities were few and far between until mid-way through the season. However, when Ekeler was given the opportunity, he proved to be the perfect scat-back with a shiftiness that was before absent in the Chargers offense. So barring any sort of long-term injury, Austin Ekeler could become one of the leagues most versatile running backs in the coming years.
Clearly two of the league’s most underrated rising stars, you can expect a huge year out of the Chargers backfield. Gordon’s power combined with Ekeler’s quickness will provide Los Angeles with a 1-2 punch that will be virtually unbeatable. And oh yeah, it doesn’t hurt to have Philip Rivers at the helm, forcing the defense to spread out and drop back in coverage.
– Travis Baker is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the Los Angeles Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @SportsFollower0