Chargers Draft Analysis: FB Jacob Hester

Jaime Cattano continues her five-part series taking a closer look at the Chargers' draft picks. Determined to find support for Ladainian Tomlinson after the loss of Michael Turner, the Bolts traded a pair of picks to move up and nab Jacob Hester. A runner, blocker and receiver, this prospect carries a blend of skills sure to get him on the field.

Who He Is

Jacob Hester of LSU was a team captain his senior year. In the 5'11", 230-pounder's last season with the Tigers, he was selected to the All-Southeast Conference team and played full-time at halfback.

Hester rushed for 1,103 yards and added 12 touchdowns on 225 attempts. He grabbed 14 passes for 106 yards and chipped in a score, plus registered eight tackles (four solo). While he led the team in rushing yards in 10 of 14 games, Hester fumbled just once during his career with the Tigers.

Hester displayed his talents at the NFL Combine, placing fifth in the 3-cone drill (6.85 seconds) and seventh in the 20-yard shuttle (4.24 seconds).

What to Like

Hester is the personification of a versatile player. He is a solid north-and-south runner, an efficient blocker in pulls and traps, and is equipped with large hands to secure receptions. Hester is also a determined and unafraid tackler and has the stellar work ethic every special-teams coach desires.

Hester has good initial quickness and, although he is not a road-runner up-field, he smartly compensates for the deficiency with crisp and decisive routes and smart angles out of the backfield. He attacks gaps with determination and never lets a clogged hole deter his leg drive.

FB Jacob Hester
Chris Graythen/Getty

With enormous upper body strength, defenders have a difficult time trying to dislodge the ball from Hester's grasp. He can catch outside his frame, so he can do more than be used for dump-offs. When Hester possesses the ball, he has forceful direction and the power to square up against linebackers to get the extra yard.

Hester is a natural playmaker and consistent in his abilities. He is a mobile blocker and gets good leverage to block effectively on the move. A classic overachiever and a tough player, he gives full effort every snap, proving eager and able to wear many hats.

What's Not To Like

Hester lacks the bulk to play fullback and will need to build his frame if he wants to excel as a blocker. He lacks elite speed and the pointed suddenness to jump out of his stance. He also fails to embody lateral agility or quick changes of direction, which limit him to a north-south running style.

Even though he is stilted on a pair of thick legs with solid upper body strength, he is inconsistent in thrusting through the pile in short-yardage situations. His thick chest also comes with some stiffness, making it difficult for him to adjust his body to react to misdirected passes.

Hester houses short arms, leading him to miss jump balls and passes at high points. He also struggles to track the ball over his head on extended routes. Hester's low running stance makes him a phone-booth player and he struggles to widen the lane as a lead blocker.

Who the Bolts Passed Up

When the Bolts snagged Hester, they in turn by-passed Jamaal Charles, who was the next running back drafted and was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs. Charles is a good athlete with top-notch acceleration and speed. He reaches full speed in a flash, leaving defenders in the dust. This attribute seems to be the primary edge Charles holds over Hester.

Charles is not powerful enough to be an efficient blocker. He shies away from contact and fails to run over defenders in the hole. He goes down too easily on contact and simply isn't durable enough, which will make it difficult to withstand attacks at the next level. Charles is only a willing blocker, as compared to Hester, who enters every play full-throttle.

Looking Forward

After free-agent Michael Turner headed over to the Atlanta Falcons, the Bolts were in dire need of support for LaDainian Tomlinson. While Hester will be molded into a reliable option behind L.T., his versatility on the field will allow the Bolts to utilize his talents to the fullest extent.

Hester runs with a bruising style that makes him a viable option to add depth behind FB Andrew Pinnock. Hester has the attitude and work ethic that will allow the Bolts space to see where he fits best.

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