The Los Angeles Chargers are gearing up for a 2021 season that will look different than before. The coaching staff has changed, Hunter Henry and Casey Hayward have left, Melvin Ingram is gone (technically still a free agent), and most importantly, Chargers fans will be headed to beautiful SoFi Stadium.
As the draft inches closer and closer, the options for the Chargers are endless. New head coach Brandon Staley and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi can’t wait to get their hands on this group. Justin Herbert proved everybody wrong with a spectacular rookie season. Joey Bosa– when healthy- showed why he’s one of the best pass rushers in the league. Derwin James is ready to roll after another injury and Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler top off one of the better offensive groups in the NFL.
The Chargers spent big on the offensive line and brought in veteran Jared Cook to bridge the tight end position for the time being. However, there’s a position on the team that should be addressed at some point in this draft.
Chargers Running Back Options In The NFL Draft
You guessed it, it’s the running back position. Outside of Ekeler, who has turned out to be a stud in all levels, the Bolts’ running back room is murky. Justin Jackson has been injury-prone, Joshua Kelley took a back seat at the end of last season, and Kalen Ballage became the starting back when Ekeler was on the shelf.
So, truth be told, the Chargers should strongly consider selecting a running back in the draft to compliment Ekeler and provide legitimate insurance for the position. Here are three options the Chargers could consider in this year’s NFL Draft.
Chargers Running Back Option #1: Rhamondre Stevenson
Why is Stevenson the perfect compliment to Ekeler? Well, for starters he’s two inches taller and nearly 30 pounds bigger than Ekeler. However, it’s much more than that. Stevenson is a brawler and a bruiser. He’s a perfect run-through-the-tackle type of back that the Chargers have been missing.
He’s labeled by many as a short yardage back, and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, how many times did Shane Steichen and Anthony Lynn run a draw play or simple handoff up the middle on short-yardage situations?
Enter Stevenson, who would absolutely thrive in that situation. He played in just six games for the Oklahoma Sooners in 2020 but posted 665 yards and seven scores on 101 carries.
Rhamondre Stevenson cooked the entire Florida defense
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) December 31, 2020
Stevenson is tough to bring down and could spell Ekeler on those short-yardage situations, or allow Lombardi to run a dual-back set and throw opposing defenses completely off guard.
Option #2: Chuba Hubbard
Hubbard was absolutely terrific in his sophomore season at Oklahoma State. He ran for an unworldly 2,094 yards with 21 touchdowns in 13 games and was pegged as one of the best backs in the NCAA. However, this past season was marred with injuries. He played just seven games and ran for 625 yards and five scores.
However, don’t sleep on Hubbard. His injury-riddled 2020 season is the only reason he falls out of the top tier group of runnings back and could potentially fall to the 4th or 5th round, even further.
The best thing about Hubbard is his speed. Unlike Stevenson, he’s not much of a bruiser. However, if the Chargers offensive line is as improved as advertised, Hubbard could rip off some huge runs as a compliment to Ekeler.
Big run for Chubba Hubbard!
Can Chubba play his way into RB1 discussion?pic.twitter.com/X5m1aUWjZs
— NFL Draft Prospects Podcast (@nflprospectspod) October 24, 2020
When he’s in the open field he’s tough to catch and ran just under 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. Hubbard and Ekeler would give teams fits. Also, he could instantly step in as the lead back if injuries strike the Chargers.
Option #3: Pooka Williams
This is a fun possibility to think about. Some say he is the next Lynn Bowden, although it’s the other way around. Pooka is exactly what teams envisioned Bowden as. A more comparable comp might be Tarik Cohen.
While Williams’s frame is small at 5-9 and 175 pounds, he’s as explosive as they come. He runs a 4.39 and can catch the ball out of the backfield as well as tote the rock like a normal running back. Oh, and he can return kicks as well.
He only played four games in his final season with the Kansas Jayhawks, but his first two seasons he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in each of them. If the Chargers still believe in Kelley, then Williams is a perfect choice. The best part is he could be had in a very late round.
For fun, here’s every touchdown he scored in a Jayhawks uniform.
— We good? (@Jifhawk) October 20, 2020
A tandem of Ekeler and Pooka is bound to make Tom Telesco and the Bolts’ mouths water uncontrollably.