Heading into the 2023 NFL draft, it was somewhat of an expectation that the Chargers could potentially spend a draft pick on the running back position at any time over the seven rounds, mainly due to the lack of depth on the team on top of Austin Ekeler’s trade request.
But seven rounds came and went and the Chargers decided against spending a pick on the position, likely signifying they’re willing to see what Josh Kelley and Isaiah Spiller can do as they both continue to fight for the backup spot behind Ekeler.
Within their group of 18 undrafted free agents they signed following the draft, the Chargers added two running backs from FCS programs in North Dakota’s Tyler Hoosman and Northern Colorado’s Elijah Dotson. For this UDFA profile, we’re going to go ahead and take a look at Hoosman whom I believe has one of the best chances to land a spot on either the active roster or practice squad by the start of the 2023 regular season.
Like many of us, when the Chargers announced their UDFAs, we jumped straight to YouTube to see if we could find some film. Hoosman luckily had a highlight tape ready to go and it started off with a bang via the video in the tweet above.
Hoosman is a 6’0, 215-pound back with a north/south, one-cut running style that he utilizing in North Dakota’s downhill zone run scheme. After playing in a rotational role for the first five seasons of his career at Norther Iowa (redshirt+COVID season), Hoosman finally broke out for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns during his lone season with the Fighting Hawks. However, he didn’t offer much in the passing game as he finished the 2022 season with 125 yards on just 22 catches.
The Chargers struck gold when they found Ekeler out of Western State in Colorado back in 2017. Hoosman is definitely not the same type of player as Ekeler was, in both play style and production. However, Hoosman’s skillset as a bruiser between the tackles and at the goal line is something that’s been missing from this offense which is a big reason why I give him a chance to surprise in training camp.
According to @Mathbomb on Twitter, Hoosman posted a 7.96 relative athletic score which was just .04 points away from meeting the elite threshold (8.00). While nothing truly stands out across his athletic profile, Hoosman was roughly above-average in every category with his best marks coming in the 40 (4.52), broad jump (10’2”), and vertical (35”). Luckily, those numbers do a good job of reflecting his skillset on tape. He’s just fast enough to take advantage of a seam and his lower-body strength helps him consistently burst into the end zone from a few yards out. In fact, Hoosman’s tape is littered with touchdowns where he soars over the defensive line, not unlike the goal-line drill the Chargers running backs perform throughout the season.
Tyler Hoosman is a RB prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 7.96 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 357 out of 1745 RB from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/3Qw9vcNSAT #Chargers pic.twitter.com/x12IDyppyR— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 30, 2023
Hoosman is certainly on pace to be just a camp body with the Bolts currently housing three young backs behind Ekeler in Kelley, Spiller, and Larry Rountree. But based on the complete lack of consistency behind Ekeler, I’m not allowing myself to completely write off any chance for another UDFA to make a splash. Rountree was given snaps towards the end of the year due to his role on special teams, not due to earning them over Kelley or Spiller. If Hoosman can impress in both phases of the game, don’t be surprised to see him kept around for longer than this offseason.