AFC West

Joshua Kelley Stays Home As Chargers’ New RB

It’s one thing when someone makes their dream come true by making it to the NFL, however if they were able to play their entire high school, college, and now NFL career in ONE state – as the rapper Future says “Life is good”.

UCLA Bruins linebacker Shea Pitts (47) and running back Joshua Kelley (27) after the game against Cal; Cal at UCLA, November 30, 2019, Los Angeles, CA. Steve Cheng / Bruin Report. CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

This example is the case for the new LA Chargers running back Joshua Kelley who will be able to make his dreams come true as he was drafted to a team who will playing in his hometown of Inglewood. Kelley has overcome some adversity in his past after leaving UC Davis and literally harassing UCLA until they gave him an opportunity as a walk-on. The patience with the process that he displayed while at UCLA should have him more than prepared to compete with the already loaded backfield of the LA Chargers. Even though the Chargers return with two headed monster with Austin Ekeler & Justin Jackson, Kelley may bring the final element to complete their version of “Earth, Wind, & Fire”.

When it comes to Joshua Kelley’s game, the word that describes him is solid. Kelley is what every offense seeks from a running back: breakaway speed, welcomes contact which means he’ll get every inch, and he’s a reliable receiving asset for a quarterback. His results in the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine reflect his traits as well when he displayed above average strength with 23 reps on the bench press & with good enough speed to separate by clocking a sub 4.5 40. His only knock was his vertical leap was 31.0 inches which he’ll need to work on to enhance his explosiveness.

Joshua Kelley’s game has some chink in its armor. Since Kelley doesn’t has a have a burst in his game, at times he may get caught from behind by fast defensive backs. Also, since he’s not the swiftest runner, he misses out on opportunities for bigger plays since he resorts to only running defenders over. In retrospect, the Chargers need size at that position, but being a one trick pony won’t translate well in the NFL.

One word that describes Joshua Kelley is enthusiasm, as he had a positive impact in the Bruins’ locker room. At times when the team was down and pouting, Kelley was always optimistic; even if the score was lopsided, Kelley led his men to continue to play hard until the game concludes.  His voice spoke volumes, but his commitment to hard work earned himself a scholarship before the start of the 2018 season, and the rest was history.

Overall, I believe Joshua Kelley will help the LA Chargers backfield immediately; even more so if he can provide value in the special teams units, which enhances his chances of making the 53-man gameday roster on a consistent basis. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will get most of the carries, but at some point you can expect Kelley to become a 3 down running back who will earn tough yards, and be the check down that Herbert could use in this offense in the future. Sitting behind seasoned vets will enhance his vision and keys to staying healthy as he will learn how to pick his battles as a running back when deciding to welcome or avoid unnecessary contact.

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