Melvin Gordon has been compared to Jamaal Charles, and the Wisconsin running back with eye-popping 2014 numbers will stabilize the Chargers' running back carousel.

By Doug Farrar
April 27, 2015

The Chargers traded up two spots with the San Francisco 49ers, giving away a fourth-round pick in this draft and a fifth-rounder in 2016 to select Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon, one of the most productive and prolific backs in recent collegiate history. While he doesn't have the pure strength of Todd Gurley, Gordon is a perfect one-cut-and-go runner who is used to playing behind a ginormous offensive line—which is what he'll be doing with his new team. For the 9-7 Chargers in 2014, Branden Oliver led the team with 160 carries for 582 yards and three touchdowns. Oliver was put in that spot due to injuries to San Diego's other, better-known backs, and Gordon is a major, major upgrade.

Gordon's 2,587 yards on the ground and 29 touchdowns both led the nation in 2014, and comparisons to Chiefs speedster Jamaal Charles are frequent and instructive. Philip Rivers might want to stick and stay with the Chargers after this move.

• 2015 NFL draft grades: Pick-by-pick analysis and scouting reports

Strengths: Impressive speed to and through the hole. Accelerates to top speed quickly, which allows him to be very effective on draws and delays. Second gear has him moving smoothly pact linebackers and into the secondary in a big hurry. Has the speed and cutting ability to jump multiple gaps. Tremendous balance—doesn't lose his base when moving laterally; keeps his shoulders straight and the speed on. Home-run potential on nearly every play as long as he gets through an open gap at the line. Best as an outside rusher where he can utilize his acceleration to eat up huge chunks of yardage.—DF

Weaknesses: Reportedly held to zero or negative yards on nearly 20 percent of his carries, and that shows up on tape. A fairly big back, but he's not a power player who will consistently break through the first line if gaps aren't open. Not creative enough to get out of trash after first contact—needs to use his vision better to get out of trouble. Breaks tackles with acceleration more than raw power. Runs too upright at times and loses leverage. Could get lost in the NFL unless he learns to take advantage of smaller and quicker-closing gaps. Benefited from a physical, imposing line in college, and may need that at the next level. Average receiver who will need to improve this aspect of his game as a professional. Fumbled multiple times down the stretch in the 2014 season.—DF

Player comparison:Jamaal Charles

Grade: A


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