It's been a week since former Wisconsin Badgers running back Melvin Gordon heard his name called with the 15th overall pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The team who selected Gordon -- the San Diego Chargers -- traded up two spots to land the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Will Gordon revitalize the running game in San Diego? We asked managing editor John Gennaro from Bolts from the Blue.
B5Q: What were fans' reactions to the Chargers drafting Gordon as a player (trading up not included)?
John Gennaro (JG): Very excited! The Chargers running game has been best described as "inconsistent" since they released LaDainian Tomlinson years ago, and the fan base is looking forward to having another special running back in blue and gold.
B5Q: Kind of a second part to the first question, what were their reactions to trading up to land the Heisman finalist with the No. 15 overall pick?
JG: Not excited! A lot of media warned the fans, prior to the draft, that picking a running back in the first round is maybe not the best gamble (as if they forgot about Ryan Mathews). So, as much as they were excited to see Gordon's highlight plays and listen to interviews that showed what a tremendous person he is off the field, the trade up made fans realize that Gordon has to be a Pro Bowl-level running back for more than a couple of years for it to be viewed as a wise or valuable moved by the front office. That's a ton of pressure on the kid.
B5Q: Researching the Chargers' offense, they were 30th running the ball. Does Gordon's drafting instantly help their chances of improving the offense and its balance/play-making abilities, or are there issues elsewhere in the offense (i.e. offensive line, playcalling, etc.) that may continue to hamper them?
JG: Both! The offensive line was atrocious and still has holes (despite signing Broncos guard Orlando Franklin), and the play-calling was abysmal but might get better! However, there's no way that Gordon doesn't immediately improve the level of talent in the Chargers backfield, as will the return of a healthy Danny Woodhead.
There were times last year where the Chargers' starting running back was undrafted rookie Branden Oliver from Buffalo and their backup running back was the skeleton of Ronnie Brown, soooo.....Gordon will help.
B5Q: Is there legitimate competition from the Chargers current backfield that would challenge Gordon for the starting running back spot?
JG: Not really, no. Danny Woodhead will definitely get snaps and touches, because he's incredible, but he's not built to be the No. 1 running back in a power-running game. Donald Brown has been nothing but disappointing since signing a biggish deal with the team and will be tasked with keeping the bench toasty warm using his hind-parts until someone gets injured. Oliver, who would be the No. 1 running back right now if they hadn't drafted a running back, got exposed last year once he carried the ball more than a few times per game. He'll get some touches, but won't be considered for starter.
B5Q: Looking at the entire draft picks for San Diego, what message did they send with their selections, and did they address positions of need?
JG: The message they sent with their selections is "We don't care what you think". They drafted a running back in the first round when a running back hadn't been drafted in the first round in years (outside of Todd Gurley earlier in the same draft). They used their second pick on an inside linebacker despite having Donald Butler (BIG contract), Manti Te'o (second round pick in 2013), and Kavell Conner (free agent signing last year). One of those guys is being displaced. They used their third round pick on a cornerback nobody had ever heard of from a school nobody knew existed, despite having two real pass rushers and nobody behind them and no real depth on the defensive line.
They eventually addressed positions of needs with picks in the fifth and sixth rounds, but who knows if those guys will make the roster or be ready to make an impact this year. Running back was a big need though, and they made a big move to make sure they got the guy they wanted.