Dec 29, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) runs for a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
It’s obvious that Ryan Mathews is the “Batman” of the Chargers’ backfield. But does San Diego need to draft a “Robin”?
Mathews established himself as San Diego’s premier back in 2013, when he is healthy. He rushed for 1,255 yards and 6 TDs. The Chargers were able to move the ball very effectively when he played, a perfect example being the Thursday night win in Denver. Mathews only had 3 rushing attempts in the 27-17 loss to the lowly Raiders, San Diego only mustered 36 rushing yards all game. He was almost completely M.I.A. for the embarrassing loss to the Redskin in OT 30-24, especially when the Chargers couldn’t win the game on 1st and goal from the 1. Also during the playoff game vs. Denver, he only had 5 attempts for 26 yards in the loss. Overall, when Mathews wasn’t healthy, the Chargers were 0-3, and the Chargers were 6-0 when he had at least 20 carries. Now, don’t get me wrong, Danny Woodhead was one of the best acquisitions the Chargers had last year. However, he is no bell cow, every down back-type player. The bottom line is that the Chargers need to run the ball well to win, even in the likely sporadic absence of Mathews. This is why the Chargers need a running back in the 2014 offseason.
There are plenty of mid-round draft gems in this year’s class at that position. Since drafting Mathews out of Fresno State, the Chargers are 0 for 2 drafting RB’s (see Edwin Baker and Jordan Todman). The 3 candidates I would suggest in this year’s draft are Tre Mason (Auburn), Bishop Sankey (UW), and Jeremy Hill (LSU). Mason was invited to New York as a Heisman finalist after clutch performances in the Iron Bowl and SEC Championship game. Sankey had 1,775 yards rushing and 18 TDs, and performed well against the likes of Oregon and Stanford. Hill is a bigger, bruising runner and had 1,401 rushing yards and 18 TDs in the best defensive conference in college football. Getting any of these 3 would provide suitable insurance for the Chargers’ run game, and provide the Chargers with a “Batman” and “Robin” in its backfield.