LA Chargers: Grading Austin Ekeler and the 2020 RB group

Alexander Insdorf
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(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

Joshua Kelley

The way to describe Joshua Kelley’s 2020 is that everything was going right for him until it wasn’t. Many Chargers’ beat reporters covering the team said that Kelley looked awesome in camp and was one of the standouts despite being a rookie in a pandemic offseason. In Week 1 against the Bengals, he was a key reason they won that game. Costly fumble aside, I would also say he had a decent game against the Chiefs.

After that point, the season became a true nightmare for Kelley. In his last 12 games of the season, Kelley rushed for just 230 yards after attaining 124 in the first two games. Another fumble before halftime at Tampa Bay proved to be devastating for the team. Kelley was a healthy scratch due to blocking and special teams blunders.

Kelley never went lower than playing 13% of the team’s offensive snaps in the first 11 weeks. He played a combined nine offensive snaps in his final three games that weren’t scratches. It was clear Kelley lost confidence due to injuries piling up at the running back position in addition to his own mistakes.

Kelley can recover from 2020. With a complete offseason and a new coaching staff, there’s absolutely potential for a reset. It’s way too early to call the fourth-rounder a bust in my opinion. There were breakthrough moments where he showed his potential.

All of that being said, Kelley’s downward spiral was a really disappointing development.

Final 2020 grade: D+