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Austin Ekeler Places Among Top 50 NFL Players for 2023

Austin Ekeler

Austin Ekeler Places in The LWOS Top 50

For the 2022 NFL season, Mike Kashuba curated a Top 50 list, voted on by Last Word On Sports’ pro football writers. The Los Angeles Chargers got lots of love from the voters, leading to multiple placements in the top 50. Our second player from the Brandon Staley-led team was running back, Austin Ekeler.

Austin Ekeler’s Placement

The team’s leading scorer for the last few seasons gets his flowers from the Last Word on Sports football staff. Ekeler took charge for this Chargers running game, showing electric playmaking ability both through the air and the ground, tallying 18 scores last season as the do it all back.

Austin Ekeler placed at the 32nd spot in the poll, ahead of the likes of Stefon Diggs, Tony Pollard, and Derrick Henry. Our staff seemed to value versatility and the ability to points on the board, and arguably no one is better at those two skills, than the former undrafted back, Austin Ekeler.

Austin Ekeler’s Background

Ekeler’s story is quite well known to this point. For a summary of his amazing start from nothing, he was a small school kid fighting his way from the sixth-string running back to a roster spot. As an undrafted free agent out of Western Colorado, he had to earn every opportunity he was given.

After making the team in 2017, he played in relief of the then-starting Chargers back, Melvin Gordon. In his limited sample size, Ekeler shows his ability to break tackles and make something out of nothing. Every season onward, he earned an increased role in the offense, especially showing his prowess as a pass catcher. Eventually, in 2020, Ekeler finally earns the starting job and has not looked back since. He is now one of the best do-it-all running backs in the entire league.

2022 Season Stats

Austin Ekeler’s 2022 season may have been a slight decrease in production from 2021, but it was still highly productive. The former undrafted back set a franchise season record for receptions. He recorded 107 receptions, which beat out Keenan Allen‘s mark by one. To break a record like that, as a running back is nothing short of incredible. With those receptions, Ekeler racked up 722 receiving yards and 5 receiving touchdowns.

Beyond his ability as a pass catcher, Ekeler used his pound-for-pound skillset, bowling over defenders, as well as using his agility to completely shake players to create yardage on the ground. As the lead back the Western Colorado product had 915 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. With this type of versatility and production, it was hard for LWOS to ignore.

Outlook to the 2023 Season

The guitar solo celebrating back hopes to continue his streak as the leading scorer for this team. The rising of Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller may take away some touches for Ekeler, as well as being in a very talented, but crowded offense, I would look to see Ekeler in a smaller role. This doesn’t exactly mean less production, as keeping him fresh and for better opportunities will only increase his efficiency not only as a runner but as a receiver. With the hiring of former Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, Kellen Moore, look to Ekeler having a very efficient year for the Bolts.

Main Photo Credit: Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union

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