The San Diego Chargers added a dynamic player to their offense Thursday night, as they drafted former Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Chargers traded up two spots to select Gordon, as they swapped first-round draft picks with the San Francisco 49ers -- who used the 17th overall selection to draft Oregon defensive tackle Arik Armstead. San Diego also sent San Francisco a 2015 4th-round pick (117th overall) and a 5th round pick in 2016.
Gordon, a 2014 Doak Walker award winner and Heisman Trophy runner-up, joins quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Keenan Allen and tight end Antonio Gates in a Chargers offense that ranked 18th overall in total offense -- 10th in passing, but 30th in rushing offense -- last season. He'll provide an instant jolt to an offense whose leading rusher, running back Brenden Oliver, gained only 582 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry in 2014.
The 6'2, 215-pound running back dominated the college football landscape in his final two years, rushing for 4,196 yards his sophomore and junior seasons combined. Last season alone, Gordon rushed for 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns -- only 42 yards short of Barry Sanders' FBS all-time, single season record of 2,628. He finished his career with a 7.79 yards per carry average -- an FBS record -- and ran for 100-plus yards 22 times.
The Kenosha, Wis. native received many accolades in his 2014 season besides the Doak Walker and Heisman nominations, including the Grange-Griffin Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Dayne-Ameche Big Ten Running Back of the Year awards. He was named unanimous consensus first-team All-American and unanimous first-team All-Big Ten.
Georgia running back Todd Gurley and Gordon were the first two running backs drafted in the first round since 2012. Gordon came off the draft board five picks later than Gurley, as the St. Louis Rams drafted the Georgia product with the 10th overall pick.
Gordon joins an impressive list of Badgers who have been drafted in the first round in recent memory, including center Travis Frederick (31st overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 2013), guard Kevin Zeitler (27th by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2012), defensive linemen J.J. Watt (11th by the Houston Texans in 2011), tackle Gabe Carimi (29th by the Chicago Bears in 2011) and tackle Joe Thomas (3rd by the Cleveland Browns in 2007).