The Los Angeles Chargers went all defense with their first four picks and turned it to the offensive side for their last three. In the seventh round, the team chose running back Justin Jackson out of Northwestern.
The Chargers needed another running back to add depth behind Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, but they waited until the last round to address that need. Still, the team managed to get the player who holds the all-time career rushing record for the Wildcats, a record he broke by over 1,000 yards.
Jackson is on the smaller side at 6-0 and 199 pounds so he likely won’t be able to carry the workload he did in college, which included an average of 22.3 carries per game. He made the most of those carries though. He ran for 5,440 yards, which ranks No. 11 in NCAA history. In addition, he added 122 catches and scored 42 total touchdowns (41 rushing, 1 receiving).
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Melvin Gordon is the workhorse in Los Angeles. That isn’t going to change. But the team doesn’t have much behind him. Ekeler was way better than anyone expected last year, carving out an every-game role for himself. If Jackson can figure out a way to be productive on third downs, he can become a solid rotational back for this team.
He can catch the ball out of the backfield, but his size may make him limited in pass protection. His workload may also lend to the belief that he’s been overworked at the college level, as he is one of two players to have over 1,100 rushing attempts in the last 20 years.
He may have too much “tread on the tires” coming in, but this pick made plenty of sense as the Chargers now have another back to take the load off Gordon and Ekeler. Of course, the team could also decide to add another back through the undrafted free-agent process.