LA Chargers News

LA Chargers: Grading the 2020 running back group

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Justin Jackson #22 (L) and Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrate Ekeler's game winning touchdown in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts at Dignity Health Sports Park on September 08, 2019 in Carson, California. The Chargers defeated the Colts 30-24 in overtime. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
CARSON, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Justin Jackson #22 (L) and Austin Ekeler #30 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrate Ekeler's game winning touchdown in overtime against the Indianapolis Colts at Dignity Health Sports Park on September 08, 2019 in Carson, California. The Chargers defeated the Colts 30-24 in overtime. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) – LA Chargers

Joshua Kelley

Kelley will remain in Los Angeles for the start of his professional career while wearing blue and gold. It’s a pretty perfect story for the California native born in Inglewood.

Kelley’s selection in the fourth round didn’t shock me, but it was a little surprising. He’s a talented, bruising running back with good size. When it comes to running backs in the 2020 draft, my stance was and still is that the Chargers could’ve waited till the sixth or seventh round to get one.

Using a high draft pick on Kelley does signal that the Chargers have year one plans for him. It doesn’t mean he’ll have a big role in the offense immediately, but he can carve that out later on. One situation that Kelley could be used in is red zone carries. Ekeler and Jackson both have struggled at times in the red zone, particularly when it comes to the goal line.

Gordon’s departure in free agency leaves room for a bruising power back to complement Ekeler and Jackson. With his 6’0″ 220 frame, he can fight for short yardage while the other running backs work in space.

The narrative to watch with Kelley this year is if he can push himself past Jackson by the end of the year. Jackson is in the final year of his contract after Ekeler was signed for a long term deal. With Kelley eventually going to be signed to a four year deal, he’ll have some pretty good security in being able to make a run at the second running back role over the coming years.

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