The Chargers and Tom Telesco boldly moved up two spots in the first round of this year’s draft to select running back Melvin Gordon out of Wisconsin. The team traded its first- and fourth-round picks in 2015 along with their fifth-round selection in 2016 in order to obtain the 15th overall pick.
The former Badger was a little underwhelming during the offseason and preseason, leaving some media pundits and bloggers – not anyone on this site – to prematurely call the drafting of Gordon a mistake.
When No. 28 wasn’t being impatient, he was being too patient, hesitating behind the offensive line looking for holes. His playing time during the preseason was limited to 20 carries. There truly wasn’t much NFL tape to go off of when it came to breaking down the rookie’s running ability at this level.
Gordon’s NFL debut against the Lions saw him carry the ball 14 times for 51 yards for an average of 3.6 yards per tote. He added three receptions for 16 yards in the team’s 33-28 victory over Detroit. His longest carry of the day went for 14 yards. The 22-year-old had an impressive touchdown scamper called back as he spun out of a tackle only to have his forearm touch the ground, causing him to be down by contact.
Overall, his first game in the league was decent, but not spectacular.
In a Week 2 loss to the Bengals on the road, Gordon flashed some of the ability that would justify his drafting in the first round.
His first run from scrimmage was good for a career-high 26 yards on the team’s opening offensive play of the game. He would later top that mark with a 27-yard-run.
The rookie reeled off three runs of 20 yards or more. This performance led to the most explosive runs – carries in excess of 20 yards – for a Chargers’ running back since 2007. The player that accomplished that feat eight years ago was LaDainian Tomlinson, finishing the game with four explosive runs of his own.
Gordon appreciated the fact that multiple runs of that nature in one game don’t come easily.
“It felt good,” Gordon said via The San Diego Union-Tribune. “It always feels good to break one. You don’t get many in the League. When you do, you try to make the best of them.”
The first-year ball carrier finished the Week 2 contest with 16 carries for 88 yards and one reception for 10 yards. Although he has yet to reach the end zone, you can see the youngster starting to figure it out.
The San Diego offensive line is still working on building cohesion. With D.J. Fluker being injured in the season-opening game, veteran Chris Hairston has stepped in at the right guard spot. Free-agent acquisition Orlando Franklin is manning the left guard position after playing predominantly at right tackle during his time with the Broncos. Second-year lineman Chris Watt has struggled a bit while adjusting to playing at center. Another free agent, Joe Barksdale is still learning the blocking schemes under offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris.
In time, and with a healthy Fluker returning to the lineup, the offensive line will get on the same page, gelling as a cohesive unit. This will, in turn, allow bigger holes for backs like Gordon to churn out yards on the ground, and allow time for quarterback Philip Rivers to sling the ball to his impressive receiving options.
Melvin Gordon has only played in two NFL games. As much as the young man must work on his patience as a ball carrier, the fans must also be patient in waiting for him to develop and prove his worth.
I have a feeling that people will be praising the first-round selection of Gordon for many years to come.
Thanks a lot for reading.