LA Chargers’ first-time Pro Bowl candidate #1: Austin Ekeler
The fact that Austin Ekeler is not a Pro Bowler already is absolutely asinine. At the end day, Pro Bowls are not the best way to evaluate how talented a player is as there are better tools out there, but the fact still remains that Austin Ekeler should have been a Pro Bowl alternate last season.
More from Bolt Beat
- LA Chargers: 3 early takeaways from 2021 minicamp thus far
- LA Chargers: Drue Tranquill takes a jab at Gus Bradley’s defense
- LA Chargers second-year players: Nothing lose and a lot to gain
- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
- LA Chargers: Chris Rumph’s upside is Melvin Ingram-like, but better
Sure, his rushing numbers might not have been as high as a Pro Bowl running back’s typically are. He only carried the ball 132 times last season for 557 yards and three touchdowns. When just looking at the rushing numbers, I get it.
However, he was so great in the passing game that it should have been impossible to ignore. Ekeler hauled in 92 receptions for 993 yards and eight touchdowns. He is one of three running backs to have 900 receiving yards in one season since 2000.
Nick Chubb, Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram all had great seasons last year and I cannot sit here and say that they did not deserve to be Pro Bowlers in their own right. However, the AFC team also only had reserve running backs, not alternates, and Ekeler absolutely should have had that fourth running back spot that Alvin Kamara got in the NFC.
Ekeler should have a similar season as he did last year. His receiving numbers will probably dip as a result of the quarterback change but I still see him being near the top of the league in running back receiving yards and targets.
His rushing attempts and overall rushing yards will probably go up as well with a new-style offense and the departure of Melvin Gordon. Ekeler already should be a Pro Bowler and he cannot be left out two years in a row.