Earlier this week, NFL Network put out a "re-draft" of the 2015 running back class.
Here's what they said about Melvin Gordon, who finished his rookie campaign with 184 carries for 641 yards (average: 3.5 yards per carry) and zero touchdowns (versus, say, Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, who racked up 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns).
From the article:
The Chargers traded up to No. 15 overall to draft Melvin Gordon, a decision that looks questionable after one season. We're here to tell Chargers fans not to give up faith. It's hard to overstate the decrepitude that was the Chargers' offensive line last year. Gordon was hit in the backfield so often that it was hard to see positives, but they were there.
The case for Gordon: Gordon showed himself to be a good receiver, even if it took a while to learn how to pass protect. He undoubtedly played better as the season wore on, even when there was nothing open in front of him. His Week 11 performance against Jacksonville was a perfect example. He broke tackles, made defenders miss often and consistently finished tough runs. Yet he still finished with only 60 rushing yards. Playing with the Chargers' offensive line was like playing with ankle weights. His movement is more fluid than any of the other backs on this list except Gurley.
Then again: The line between patient and indecisive is thin in the NFL, especially behind a lousy offensive line. Gordon was indecisive and danced too much early in the year although he did eventually improve his reads. Although the Chargers didn't get Gordon the ball in space nearly enough, his lack of big plays were alarming. In 33 receptions, shouldn't one go over 18 yards? He had only four runs over 20 yards in 184 attempts. He was a boom-or-bust runner without the booms.
We believe Gordon will get better. He has a strong chance to improve in Year 2 and can rebound into solid NFL starter status. But can he be special? That's what the Chargers were counting on when they traded up.
My take: I agree here, that it's best to not give up on Gordon. I think this offseason will be instrumental for Gordon to figure out what he needs to be successful in the league (now that he's had a taste of the challenges) and also for the Chargers to make sure he has all the tools necessary to succeed. It will be imperative for Gordon to show growth personally and professionally, and to continue to take personal responsibility toward improvement. Gordon was quoted last week saying he was "terrible" last season, which shows he's hard on himself and is taking his role on the team seriously. I think he'll have a bounce-back sophomore season, provided he has help at the line.