RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA
The fourth-round pick of the LA Chargers was perhaps the most perplexing in the draft. With Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson already in the fold, it felt like the Chargers could’ve waited until the sixth or seventh round to go get a running back.
Getting past draft value though, there’s a lot to like about Joshua Kelley. At 6’0″ 220, he’s easily the most physical back the Chargers have had in a while. He uses that size to get big chunks of yardage, especially after contact. Since 2018, Kelley has racked up 1283 yards after contact alone.
The Chargers will use Ekeler as the lead back, but I’m curious to see how the carries are divvied up. Right now, it feels like Kelley is a lock to be used on a lot of short-yardage and goal-line situations. Ekeler has been somewhat prone to fumbling on the goal line in his career. It’s easy to see the potential in Kelley’s “Hammer” nature being used frequently in the red zone, as Matt “Money” Smith described.
What will really determine Kelley’s ceiling with the Chargers in his rookie year is how Jackson plays in 2020. Jackson dealt with injuries in 2019 after he showed some great flashes in 2018. If he gets back to that form, Kelley is without a doubt the third running back.
However, if Jackson winds up injured from week to week again, it’s possible Kelley could get 30-40% of the carries behind Ekeler. Either way, it’s clear Kelley could play a pivotal role in the red zone for the team.