Kimani Vidal's Chargers jersey number choice couldn't be any more ironic

Troy v Army
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One of the best picks that the LA Chargers made in the 2024 NFL Draft came all the way in the sixth round. With the 181st pick in the draft, the Chargers selected Troy running back Kimani Vidal to bolster a running back room that now also features Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins.

The success rate on sixth-round picks is extremely low but Chargers fans are still very excited about what Vidal brings to the table. He really does look to be a diamond in the rough who can blossom into a legitimate difference-maker on offense.

After all, a player does not have to be drafted high to be successful. The Chargers' last starting running back, Austin Ekeler, wasn't even drafted as all. While his Chargers career may have ended in a dud, Ekeler had a very successful career with the Bolts; he finished his career fourth in franchise history in touchdowns, third in rushing yards and third in receiving yards for a running back.

If Vidal can have half the success that Ekeler had with the Chargers then it will be worth the sixth-round pick. Ironically enough, Vidal's game is similar to Ekeler's, drawing some fans to make a comparison between the two. That comparison has now grown even stronger, as Vidal will be wearing Ekeler's No. 30.

Kimani Vidal looks like he will be the next Austin Ekeler for the Chargers

Ekeler is not a perfect pro comp for Vidal as a running back but there are some similar traits in the two players' games. For starters, Vidal and Ekeler have very similar physical builds as they are both shorter backs who are built like Mack trucks.

There is also the parallels between where the two came from. Vidal and Ekeler both played college ball at smaller schools. Vidal got drafted unlike Ekeler, but it is not like he was a premier prospect who was receiver a lot of attention. He was overlooked, like Ekeler.

Vidal is an end zone-finder who thrived in forcing missed tackles at the collegiate level. At his best (not his last two years with the team), Ekeler was someone who always seemed to fight through first contact and was the best end zone-finder in the league.

Vidal also has value as a pass-catching back as well. His college numbers do not reflect that but the skill set is there. Plus, Ekeler didn't really have ground-breaking pass-catching numbers in college, either, so stats are not the best representation of that ability.

Ekeler has been clocked with a 4.48 40-yard dash time, Vidal officially ran a 4.46 during the NFL Combine. Like Ekeler, Vidal is not going to be someone who explodes through the line of scrimmage with speed. That may scare some after the 2023 season Ekeler had, but Vidal is like a younger version of Ekeler who averaged over five yards per carry.

This does not guarantee that Vidal will be successful. Two players can look very similar in talent and style and have two vastly different careers. But with one door closing in Ekeler, it looks like the Chargers tried to open a similar door.

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