Chargers may have found their next Austin Ekeler in Kimani Vidal: Grade and analysis

South Alabama v Troy
South Alabama v Troy / Brandon Sumrall/GettyImages

The LA Chargers have had a strong showing in the 2024 NFL Draft and the team continued that trend in round six of the draft. New GM Joe Hortiz and head coach Jim Harbaugh continue to impress as the Bolts drafted Kimani Vidal in the sixth round.

On paper, this might not seem like a big deal as the Chargers simply drafted another late-round running back. These backs can be a dime a dozen and there are a lot of hyped-up late-round backs who don't end up amounting to anything.

While Vidal is not a guarantee to be a super successful back in the NFL, it is impossible to deny that the Chargers got exceptional value in the sixth round. Vidal was targeted as one of the best late-round backs the Chargers could pursue and on Saturday afternoon the team made that dream a reality.

Chargers draft grade for Kimani Vidal: A+

Even with the addition of Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins the Vidal selection makes a ton of sense for the Bolts. Vidal may not even play much in his rookie year if the running back room ahead of him stays healthy and it would still be a good selection for LA.

Vidal's production is impossible to ignore as the Troy running back led his draft peers in both missed tackles forced and runs of 10+ yards. Sure, the competition might not have been the highest level with Troy's schedule, but it does not change the fact that he is an exciting prospect with real traits.

The 22-year-old is on the shorter side but is one of the most compact backs in this draft. His tendency to break tackles and make tacklers miss plays well at the goal-line, where he has the burst to explode through the line of scrimmage.

There is also added value in his ability to be a pass-catching option. Vidal is not going to come out and be Austin Ekeler in the passing game but he could be the most impactful pass-catching back on the team in 2024.

The Chargers drafted a receiver who had similar route-running skills as Keenan Allen in Ladd McConkey. Now, in the sixth round, the Chargers drafted a receiver on the shorter side who is built like a truck coming from a smaller program, who has a nose for the endzone and has value in the passing game.

That sounds a lot like another recent Chargers running back who was very productive for the team for several years, doesn't it? Vidal still has to prove that his tape can translate to the league, but Chargers fans missing Ekeler should love this selection.

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