Colts HC Frank Reich was the OC for the Chargers when they selected Melvin Gordon with the 15th overall pick. Danny Woodhead was his main competition for snaps, but he was coming off a lost season to injury.
Despite the draft capital, it turned into a committee between Gordon and Woodhead, which left Gordon at a 50% snap count at the very best. As a matter of fact, he only reached that threshold twice during his rookie year.
Frank Reich now drafts Jonathan Taylor as a 2nd round pick into an even more crowded backfield. Marlon Mack is coming off two 1,000 yard seasons, so he’s no slouch. He’s also no Jonathan Taylor, either. Still, Reich has stated that there’s “inherent respect for the starter returning.” He sees it as a “1-1 punch.” Not only that, he recently compared Nyheim Hines’ role to Danny Woodhead’s role in San Diego. He’s “such a good third-down back,” and “in some ways, he’s a starter.” Hines isn’t Woodhead, but Reich seems to see him in a similar role.
This backfield is going to be a headache to begin the year. Keep in mind, however, that Mack has been banged up and missed games in each of his pro seasons. If he were to miss time, Taylor has a great chance of breaking out in Year 1 behind the Colts offensive line, even with Hines keeping his pass-catching role. Taylor’s talent is several notches above Mack, so expect him to produce at a higher level with the same amount of opportunity.
A little about Taylor in college. He finished top-5 in yards after contact/attempt in each of the last three seasons, which is a great indicator he’ll be successful in the pros. His ability to force missed tackles and his receiving ability also is impressive; he led this RB class in yards/route run throughout their college careers.
All Taylor needs is opportunity, but it’ll likely take an injury to Mack for Taylor to come through on his early 4th round ADP in PPR redraft leagues. He’ll likely come off the field in most passing situations to Hines in Year 1 regardless, even though he’s fully capable of handling that role.
A strategy to obtain Taylor is to trade for him several weeks after the season has started to get him at a discount.