The LA Chargers have questions that need to be answered at the running back position but those questions should not be answered before the fourth-round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The LA Chargers are going to have a different situation at running back than the team has had over the last four years. Former first-round pick Melvin Gordon has signed with the Denver Broncos, seemingly creating a need on the roster for another running back.
One of the first things that general manager Tom Telesco did this offseason was signing Austin Ekeler to a four-year, $24.5 million contract to prevent the restricted free agent from testing the market while also giving the team its starting running back for the next four seasons.
The departure of Gordon still cannot be ignored and this has led many to believe that the Chargers will draft a running back in the 2020 NFL Draft.
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While there are cheap free-agent options available that could help the team, such as Devonta Freeman, getting a cost-controlled running back in the draft makes more sense cap-wise as paying multiple free-agent running backs is not a traditional way to build a roster.
There is nothing wrong with drafting a running back as the LA Chargers are going to need more help. Ekeler is very talented but is more reliable as a consistent pass-catching option than a consistent running option.
And while Justin Jackson has made a name for himself and might seem like a suitable option for the second running back position, he still hasn’t proven enough for the Chargers to fully entrust a large workload on him. He still will play a factor in the offense but the Chargers still need a third running back.
Despite the need, the LA Chargers must avoid using a pick in the first three rounds for a running back, which could be a possibility and has been done in several mock drafts throughout the Chargers’ community.
It would be a mistake. Running back simply is not big enough of a need to warrant a top-three pick and doing so would be careless by the Chargers.
The Chargers do not need much out of this third running back. The team needs a chance-of-pace back that is either physically daunting or is a short-yardage candidate. Drafting a running back in the top three rounds to only use that running back situationally is a massive misuse of the draft picks.
Second of all, the Chargers should know from their own roster that you don’t need to spend early on a running back, which could keep the team from ultimately doing so. Austin Ekeler was an undrafted free agent and Justin Jackson was a seventh-round pick. They can go earlier than that in the draft, but that just proves that early-round running backs are not needed.
And this draft class is fairly deep with running backs and the team could absolutely find a great fit in the fourth round or later.
A.J. Dillon from Boston College would be a great fit and is projected to go in the fourth or fifth round, Lamical Perine is a grinder that will probably be available in the fifth or sixth round, heck, hometown UCLA running back Joshua Kelley would even fit nicely as a short-yardage back and he will be available late as well.
The Chargers have options late, options that do not need an extended amount of carries to succeed, as someone in the first three rounds might need.
There is a need at running back for the LA Chargers, that part is undeniable. However, with larger, more pressing needs elsewhere on the roster, it makes no sense for the team to select a running back with one of the first three picks in the 2020 NFL Draft.