The Chargers have managed to place a handful of players amongst ESPN’s recent top 10 positional rankings. Everyone from Justin Herbert to Keenan Allen to Joey Bosa have found their way among the elite of the elite. However, that train of momentum took a hit in the site’s rankings of the best running backs in the league.
According to the final numbers taken from the numerous executives, coaches, and scouts surveyed, Austin Ekeler failed to crack the top 10, landing amongst the honorable mention selection.
Here’s what they had to say about Ekeler and his place on the rankings:
“Ekeler appeared on several top-10 ballots thanks to a career-high 911 rushing yards to complement his always stout passing-game presence. An AFC coach describes Ekeler as an all-purpose back who has a feel for the passing game. “Huge asset to Justin Herbert,” the coach says.”
“A fEeL FoR ThE PasSiNg gAmE”?
It’s comments like these that really make me question who these anonymous sources are. Ekeler leads all running backs in receptions (216), receiving yards (2.043), and receiving touchdowns (18) since the start of the 2019 season. He scored 20(!) touchdowns this past season. That total tied him for the league lead! While he fell just 89 rushing yards short of 1,000, he still managed to post a career-high 1,558 total yards of offense which ranked sixth among all players.
So let’s get some context on the entire top 10:
1.) Derrick Henry
2.) Jonathan Taylor
3.) Nick Chubb
4.) Dalvin Cook
5.) Alvn Kamara
6.) Joe Mixon
7.) Christian McCaffrey
8.) Najee Harris
9.) Aaron Jones
10.) Javonte Williams
First off, why in the world would a pair of rookies ever be ranked over a bonafide star? As good as Harris and Williams were in 2021, that’s incredibly outrageous.
Harris showed he could handle a massive workload and while he put up 1,200 yards rushing, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. He also touched the ball over 100 times more than Ekeler but managed just 109 more yards of offense with those additional opportunities.
As for Williams, he matched Ekeler in yards per carry at 4.40 and finished just behind him with 903 yards on the ground. He wasn’t nearly as productive in the passing game (316 yards) and scored a combined seven touchdowns while working alongside Melvin Gordon.
Now I believe Willliams and Harris are both stars in the making, but the results of these surveys is just outlandish. The disrespect towards cannot be overlooked here. Alvin Kamara, who made this list as the fifth-best back in the league, has never rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season and routinely posts 1,500-yard seasons as a dual-threat player. Ekeler posts comparable numbers in his first season as a full-time starter for the Chargers and he not only misses the top 10 here, he also was a massive snub for the Pro Bowl.
I feel like I could go on and on about why this is one of the worst sections of this rankings series, but you all get the picture. I guess Ekeler needs to prove it one more time in 2022 that he deserves to be held among the best of the best.