Chargers: Los Angeles’ top 5 players under 25 years old
No. 3: Chargers running back Austin Ekeler
Some may have still had their doubts about just how good running back Austin Ekeler was entering 2019.
In a way, Melvin Gordon’s holdout was responsible for showing us just how good the Western Colorado product was. Those first four games without Gordon were absolutely electric, and in my opinion, Ekeler outplayed Gordon throughout the rest of the season as well.
Ekeler’s slightly more efficient as a receiver, but he’s certainly no slouch as a runner. His overall Pro Football Focus offensive grade was an 85.2, which was 19.2 points higher than Gordon. Whatever one may think of Ekeler in the long term as the Chargers’ top running back, it’s clear he’s more than deserving of the opportunity.
Since 2017, Ekeler has the highest receiving grade among running backs in the league, beating out the likes of the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey and New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara. In 2019. Ekeler also had the fourth most receiving yards after contact out of everyone in the whole league. He has strength, speed, and efficiency, three of the most coveted traits out of any top running back.
Los Angeles is also set up very nicely for the future with its new starting running back. Back in March, Ekeler agreed to a four-year $24.5 million extension with the Chargers. Some questioned the move for Ekeler, given he could’ve potentially gotten a better deal next year, but this looks like a pretty good deal for him on paper. Remember, he worked hard from being an undrafted free agent to get to where he is now.
Starting a full season of games will be a test for Ekeler in 2020. However, there’s no doubt in my mind he can pull it off after watching him play last season.