The Chargers made a trade that sent their 2nd and 3rd round picks to the Patriots and selected Kyle Dugger, a standout star from a D-II football program.
The team also took David Asiasi a Tight End from UCLA, who was considered the best at his position in the class. However, we will be discussing his teammate Joshua Kelley, who was considered to be a Top 7 back, in the loaded RB Class of 2020.
This was the earliest that the Chargers have taken since Melvin Gordon in 2015 when they traded up to select him in the 1st round.
4th Round: Joshua Kelley, RB, (University of California)
Physicals: 5′ 10″, 212 Pounds
40-Time: 4.49 seconds
Joshua Kelley has a similar upbringing to Austin Ekeler, he was underrecruited coming out of high school and he was forced to go to a small school football program and work his way up. Kelley was a two-sport athlete in high school, he played football and ran track.
He did not start on his varsity football team until his senior year and came out of high school as a two-star RB, with mostly FBS offers. He only received one scholarship offer from UC Davis, where he played for two years and then walked on at UCLA and earned a scholarship soon after. Being from the LA area his whole life, being selected by the Chargers makes a great fit.
Joshua Kelley was considered one of the better backs in this draft class, and it’s not hard to see why. He has a great work ethic, he has great RB vision, he makes clean cuts, he can easily power through arm tackles, and he’s a great locker room presence as well. He has an ideal build for an NFL RB, with enough size and weight to handle an NFL workload while being a 3-down back.
This was someone that the Chargers were very high on going into the draft, after his performance in the Senior Bowl. Since the Senior Bowl was some of the only draft prep that teams could get, it’s no surprise that Tom Telesco used what he saw from there to play a big factor in the selections of Justin Herbert and Joshua Kelley. Kelley wasn’t used as a pass-catching back at UCLA but showed off his hands at the Senior Bowl, Ekeler should take the majority of receptions for the upcoming season.
Kelley also only fumbled 3 times in his 492 touches at UCLA, this is something that the Chargers will love, as they transition to a less turnover prone offensive scheme. Joshua Kelley is a great power back, and he could be utilized in goalline opportunities very early in the season.
While he does have an impressive 4.49 40-time, there are several times while watching the film that he can break into the open field but can’t always score due to the lack of pure breakaway speed. This is a fairly small knock because even without that lack of breakaway speed he still can make defenses pay even if he doesn’t score.
He’s not extremely elusive, which was one of his knocks coming out of college. Even though he lacks elusiveness, he’s a great athlete and the Chargers have a great RB coaching staff and will find a way to utilize his talents best.
After the departure of Melvin Gordon to the AFC West rival Broncos, the Chargers will most likely utilize all of their RBs in some capacity with Austin Ekeler as the main back. However, it has been stated by the Chargers staff that “Justin Jackson will be on a short leash”, according to Daniel Popper.
This tells Chargers fans a few things: Jackson is likely the second RB on the depth chart to start the season, while he has had a lot of success in his limited playing time due to injuries and opportunity, this should show that they really like Kelley as a runner. Austin Ekeler is a fantastic running back, and he’s especially great in the passing game, but he can struggle running between the tackles.
That’s where Joshua Kelley comes into play, and as the Chargers transition to a more run-based offense, there will be more carries for JJ and Kelley.
There might be some fantasy value for Joshua Kelley, especially if you are in a 14-16 team league, he should be able to provide some value this year.
Featured Image: Los Angeles Chargers