Bolt Beat Monday Mailbag: Finding a complimentary RB for the Chargers

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Rashaad Penny
SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Rashaad Penny /
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Although Melvin Gordon is a quality RB, it seems teams are at their best with two solid, pounding backs. Who would reasonably be available to us in the middle to late rounds of the draft? – Jerry

I don’t quite have a feel for Anthony Lynn’s character yet, but he’s been either one of two things: Incredibly and brutally honest, or a professional smoke-blower to throw off draft plans. Because as of right now, he’s been blatantly open, if not critical, about the need for another big back. And by golly, I hope that guy is Rashaad Penny out of San Diego State.

You’ve likely heard about him many times, but I have to reiterate that he would be an almost perfect compliment to Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. He can run you over for 10-15 plays a game. Derrick Henry coming out of Alabama was a second-round selection back in 2016, and the duo of DeMarco Murray and Henry in Tennessee was deadly. He’s now taken over the starting job with the Titans.

Do you remember playing high school football, and there was probably that one guy on your team who was just bigger and faster than the rest of your squad? That’s what Penny looks like running around the football field:

Rashaad Penny scored 10 touchdowns in his last three games in 2017 (and they were electric). Here they all are.

— James Simpson (@JS_Football) April 5, 2018

Want another name? Take a look at Kalen Ballage out of Arizona State. Watch this play:

Tbt when @kalenballage took on the entire UCLA defense and still scored… #YouWillBeMissed

— Barstool ASU (@BarstoolASU) April 6, 2018

He won’t make you miss, but he can make you pay. He has solid speed and can also return kicks. He’s not an every-down starter, but he does a little bit of everything and has good size (228 lbs.) to take the load off of Gordon for a few plays a game.

It seems like we have a very slim shot of grabbing Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds. How much of a drop off is there with LVE or Rashaan or Malik? – Jerry

With Leighton Vander Esch and Rashaan Evans, there isn’t a massive drop. Those two guys do things well that Smith and Edmunds also do. What you lose, however, is what makes the latter pair (deservedly so) top-10 prospects. With Edmunds, you get a freakishly athletic linebacker with intangibles off the charts. With Smith, you get an almost perfectly sound player who can tackle AND cover. For any frame of reference, though, here’s a few different draft grades to compare the four:


  • Tremaine Edmunds: 7.28
  • Roquan Smith: 6.62
  • Rashaan Evans: 6.10
  • Leighton Vander Esch: 6.18

With Malik Jefferson, you DO get that drop off (graded at 5.55), though it’s not to say he’s a bad prospect. He needs to develop more as a player and learn to diagnose better (I mean, they all do, but Jefferson more than those four). There’s a reason he’s projected as a Day 2 prospect.

You can’t go wrong with picking from those four linebackers, so long as you have a plan in place to best implement their strengths and put them in a position to succeed.

Vita Vea seems to be moving out of the Chargers’ reach on most draft boards. Are Da’Ron Payne and Maurice Hurst at the same level? – Jerry

Nope. Love ’em, wouldn’t mind having ’em, but they are not at the same level. Vita Vea has been boasted by some to be one of the best defensive tackle prospects since Aaron Donald, and he has the athletic traits to show it. He benched more times than Ndamukong Suh at the combine and runs the 40 faster than Chargers’ current center Mike Pouncey. He’s listed as 6-5, 340-ish pounds. Brandon Mebane, Mr. Belly Roll himself, is 6-1, 311 pounds.

Size and athleticism aside, he’s quite a player.

A reminder: Vita Vea is 347 lbs. Men that big shouldn't be able to do this. #Bears

— Erik Lambert (@ErikLambert1) March 2, 2018

With all due respect to the other defensive interior prospects, Vea is just that “freak talent” that sets him apart from the rest. For more information on Vita Vea, I suggest reading up on him here.

Thanks for the questions! Be sure to send some more my way, especially as the draft gets nearer. We are a few weeks away, so get those submissions in soon! Have a great rest of your week.