3 Running Backs the Chargers Can Draft to Replace Austin Ekeler

These running backs would be perfect replacements in the Los Angeles Chargers' backfield if Austin Ekeler departs.

Jan 1, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Bucky Irving (0) against the Liberty
Jan 1, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Bucky Irving (0) against the Liberty / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The Los Angeles Chargers have tapped successful head coach Jim Harbaugh to lead them into their next era. Considering the failures of the past regime, Harbaugh won't be afraid to switch things up.

One significant shift that could take place in Los Angeles revolves around the backfield, as veteran Austin Ekeler seems poised to take his talents elsewhere after a difficult 2023 campaign.

Thankfully, this year's draft provides plenty of younger (and cheaper) backs to replace Ekeler, should he move on.

1. Jonathon Brooks, Texas

What made Ekeler so productive in Los Angeles was his dual-threat skillset. He went over 1,500 yards from scrimmage three times over four seasons, and the talented RB led the league in total TDs in back-to-back years, thanks to his additions in the passing game.

Harbaugh may very well want someone capable of bringing something similar to his offense, and Texas' Jonathon Brooks could be just the man.

Brooks broke out this past season for the Longhorns, crushing his previous personal bests with 1,139 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground, plus another 25 receptions and 286 receiving yards.

Now, Brooks likely has some work ahead of him to become even Ekeler-lite considering his lack of production outside of the 2023 campaign. But the potential is obvious, which is why he's regarded as the top back in this class.

Brooks has shown the playmaking tools to succeed in the pros, and he's got an NFL-like frame (6 feet, 195 pounds) to build upon as well. He's also just 20 years old and will only be 21 by the time training camp starts, so there's massive room for him to get better in a pro environment.