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Predictions: Ryan Mathews

(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Ryan Mathews might of had the biggest shoes to fill in Chargers history. He was drafted 12th overall last season to replace the MVP running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Mathews attended Fresno State from 2007-2010. In his freshman year, Mathews rushed for 866 yards on 145 carries. He led the entire NCAA Freshman Class in yards per carry (6.0) and touchdowns (14). He missed most of his sophomore season with a knee injury. His junior season was what set him apart from the rest. He ran for 1,808 yards, which led the NCAA. Mathews was selected first team all-WAC, and second team all-American. It was very clear that Ryan Mathews was ready to play in the NFL. The Chargers traded up 6 picks to get Mathews. He has incredible speed and elusiveness, which San Diego realized could be their next star back.

There is no doubt about it, Mathews has potential. His rookie season was decent. It wasn’t what most fans wanted, but he’ll only get better. His game wasn’t what caused him to only rush for 678 yards, it was the injuries. His injury problems were a factor in his draft stock from day one. From the start of the season, Mathews dealt with injury problems. He had elbow problems, which made him wear a large band to protect it. He also dealt with an ankle injury that caused him to sit on the sidelines for 4 games.

Many fans, fantasy owners, and even some analysts say he’s a bust just from his rookie season. The reason many people say this about Mathews, is because of the shoes he had to fill. As a mentioned earlier, Mathews was the heir to Chargers’ great RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Tomlinson is arguably one of the best running backs to ever play the game. He’s been notched as the best in the last decade (2000-2010). San Diego was expecting the same thing they got from LT, from Mathews.

Ryan is still young. His health issues are a downside, but his talent is a huge upside. The Chargers have two starting-caliber running backs now, so Mathews will have to prove this season why he’s undoubtedly San Diego’s star back. So on to my prediction. Ryan Mathews stays healthy, rushes for 1,000+ yards and 10+ touchdowns. He will also be considered a top 10 running back in the NFL when the season is over.


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