American Football

Chargers continue deep dive into 2024 RB class ahead of NFL draft

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NCAA Football: Washington State at UCLA
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers have a thin running back room, even after the signing of J.K. Dobbins. Will they select one later this week?

Last week, the Chargers signed former Ravens second-round pick J.K. Dobbins to a one-year deal to join a running back room that also boasts another former Baltimore ball-carrier in Gus Edwards. The two will likely lead the position group into the 2024 season but it still remains unknown if one of the younger backs — Isaiah Spiller or a rookie — could find their way into the rotation by season’s end.

Over the past week, the Chargers have reportedly met with a pair of running backs that are each expected to come off the board on day three. That’s the sweet spot for the Chargers who really can’t afford to spend one of their five picks during the first two days on the position when there are still a few too many holes elsewhere on the roster.

This past Friday, Justin Melo of The Draft Network reported that the Chargers were amongst four teams to meet in person with former UCLA and Ball State back Carson Steele.

In two seasons at Ball State (2021-2022), Steele rushed for 2,447 yards and 20 touchdowns to go with 323 receiving yards and two scores through the air. After transferring out to the West Coast, Steele rushed for 847 yards and six touchdowns (two more receiving) in his lone season with the Bruins.

Per Melo, teams have been evaluating the 6’1, 225-pound Steele as a potential convert to fullback or H-back. At hi pro day workout, Steele was clocked in at 4.77 in the 40-yard dash while jumping 37.5 inches in the vertical and putting up 28 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press.

While Steele doesn’t have the chops to break off large runs, he showed good vision near the goal-line and notable contact balance to help keep him vertical while in pursuit of finding the end zone.

Just 24 hours before meeting with Steele, Melo also reported that the Chargers met virtually with former Memphis running back Blake Watson. Compared to Steele, Watson is much more aligned with the scat-back build at 5’9 and 196 pounds. His athletic testing reflects that size difference as Watson posted a 4.39 in the 40 with a very impressive 41.5 inches in the vertical and an 11’3 mark in the broad jump.

Watson spent five seasons at Old Dominion (2018-2022) where he rushed for 2,040 yards and 13 touchdowns in roughly three seasons as a contributor (two as a starter from 2021-2022). In his lone season with the Tigers, Watson rushed for 1,252 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also caught 53 passes for 485 yards and another three scores. Those numbers were good enough to earn him a spot on the All-AAC First Team. His 17 total touchdowns were good for the sixth-most in the country, as well.

Watson’s electric speed is apparent on film but what stood out to me the most was his patience in finding the right time to hit holes after letting his blocks set up. He’s a smooth glider and you can see it when he sticks his foot in the ground to shoot laterally around would-be tacklers.

Would either of these backs be ideal fits for the Chargers in this year’s draft? Why or why not? Be sure to let me know all of your thoughts below!

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