Why Melvin Gordon should have a big rookie season
Although he didn’t play against the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night, with a minor injury keeping him out of the second preseason game, Melvin Gordon is expected to do big things for the San Diego Chargers this season.
The first-round draft pick out of Wisconsin didn’t have a great preseason debut, rushing for just 11 yards on six carries against the Cowboys (although he did force two missed tackles), but there is plenty of reason to think he will have a good NFL career.
He ranked third in the nation behind only Pittsburgh’s James Conner and Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott among running backs in our grading system, racking up 2,593 yards on the ground and forcing 74 missed tackles on his 343 carries. Army’s Terry Baggett and Indiana’s Tevin Coleman were the only draft-eligible running backs to average more yards after contact than the 3.6 managed by Gordon, and those two things combined helped him finish the year with the third-highest elusive rating of all the running backs in the 2015 NFL draft.
He was used sparingly as a receiver in his final season at Wisconsin, with just 19 catches for 153 yards, but that shouldn’t be a problem in a Chargers offense that already has two good pass-catching backs in Danny Woodhead and Branden Oliver (he forced 14 missed tackles on just 36 catches last season).
In fact, the trio of Gordon, Woodhead and Oliver gives the Chargers the best backfield they’ve had since the days of having Michael Turner backing up LaDainian Tomlinson, so it’s no wonder that there is optimism about what the Chargers offense can do in 2015.